Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #32
New Evidence of the Sources of Conditioned Reinforcement for Observing Responses
Saturday, May 23, 2009
1:00 PM–2:20 PM
North 226 AB
Area: EAB/EDC; Domain: Experimental Analysis
Chair: Nirvana Pistoljevic (Teachers College, Columbia University)
Discussant: Jessica Singer-Dudek (Teachers College, CU and CABAS)
Abstract: This symposium will present new research related to the acquisition of conditioned reinforcement and emulation as a function of observation. The first 2 papers will outline new research regarding the role of both the peer and the experimenter during an observational intervention which has been demonstrated to successfully convert neutral stimuli to conditioned reinforcers. The third paper will present new research regarding the induction of emulation in typically developing 2-year-olds. All three papers will be discussed in terms of their utility for informing new research on the sources of conditioned reinforcement for observing responses.
The Role of the Experimenter in the Emergence of Conditioned Reinforcement from Observation
R. Douglas Greer (Columbia University Teacher's College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences), MICHELLE L. ZRINZO (Teachers College, Columbia University)
Abstract: An experiment was conducted that tested the effects of the presence of an experimenter on the acquisition of conditioned reinforcement as a function of observation with three preschool age children for whom metal washers did not function to reinforce performance or learning tasks. A counterbalanced reversal design was implemented for the pre-intervention performance tasks and a pre-intervention baseline was implemented for learning tasks in order to test the reinforcing effects of the washers. The intervention consisted of an automated device delivering the neutral stimuli to a peer confederate’s transluscent plastic cup (in the participants’ view) while an identical cup in front of the participants remained empty. Participants were not aware that the experimenter was present during the observational intervention as she was positioned behind a partition. Participants completed a performance task next to a peer confederate separated by another partition. The experimenter dropped a metal washer down an opaque chute into a cup located on the desk in front of the peer confederate contingent upon participant responding. The participants were able to observe the peer confederate receive these metal washers while they did not receive them at any point. Following the intervention, post-intervention assessments for performance and learning tasks were re-implemented in order to determine the effects of the intervention on the dependent variables.
The Role of Peers in the Emergence of Conditioned Reinforcement from Observation
R. Douglas Greer (Columbia University Teacher's College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences), Jessica Singer-Dudek (Teachers College, CU and CABAS), MARA KATRA OBLAK (Teachers College, Columbia University)
Abstract: We used a delayed multiple baseline design across participants to determine the role of the peer in an observational intervention on the emergence of conditioned reinforcers. Four preschool students with and without developmental delays served as the participants for this experiment. Prior to the experiment, small pieces of string (delivered into transluscent plastic cups) did not function as conditioned reinforcers for performance or learning tasks for any of the participants. An observational intervention was conducted, during which a performance task was presented to the participant and no peer confederate was present. During the return to pre-intervention conditions, the data showed that the strings were not conditioned as reinforcers. A second observational intervention was conducted in which a peer confederate was present, seated next to the participant but separated by an opaque partition, so that each could see each other’s head, shoulders, and cup, but not the task each performed. The observational intervention ended when the target students began requesting or manding for strings, either vocally or by attempting to look at or take the peer’s string. A return to the performance and acquisition tasks following the observational intervention demonstrated that strings were conditioned as reinforcers only when the peer confederate was present.
The Induction of Emulation in Typically Developing 2-Year-Olds
R. Douglas Greer (Columbia University Teacher's College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences), MINDY BUNYA ROTHSTEIN (Teachers College Columbia University)
Abstract: Research has demonstrated that typically developing children do not naturally emulate. Instead, children imitate others. In particular, when compared with chimpanzees, human children imitate while chimpanzees emulate. This study investigated emulation in typically developing 2-year-old children. A counterbalanced delayed multiple probe design was utilized across participants to compare a “trial and error” treatment package to instruction in object use imitation. Baseline conditions tested for emulation using apparatuses that housed reinforcers for the participants. Treatment conditions compared and “trial and error” treatment package to instruction in object use imitation to determine which procedure induced emulation in participants.



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