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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #212
CE Offered: BACB
Advances in Preference Assessment Procedures
Monday, May 30, 2016
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Grand Ballroom CD North, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Rachel Scalzo (Continuum Behavioral Health)
Discussant: Wendy A. Machalicek (University of Oregon)
CE Instructor: Rachel Scalzo, Ph.D.

Identification of preferred stimuli is critical for effective intervention programs for individuals with disabilities, as this is often the first step in the identification of reinforcing stimuli. Direct preference assessments have been the gold standard for identification of preferred stimuli among individuals not capable of vocally expressing preferences. In this symposium, we present research regarding the advances in the application of preference assessments. The first presentation will introduce a new methodology for assessing preferences for social interactions. Results indicate that videos may be used to represent social interactions in a paired choice preference assessment; moreover, results of the preference assessment correlate with reinforcer value as measured by a progressive-ratio schedule assessment. The second presentation will address considerations in scheduling preference assessments prior to learning trials. Results indicate that stimulus preference remain steady across short periods of time. The final discussion will summarize these studies and highlight the applied value of the results.

Keyword(s): motivating operation, preference assessment, social reinforcer
Correspondence Between Preference Assessment Outcomes and Stimulus Reinforcer Value for Social Interactions
ABBY HODGES (Baylor University), Tonya Nichole Davis (Baylor University), Regan Weston (Baylor University), Emily Hogan (Baylor University)
Abstract: Effective training programs for individuals with disabilities generally involve the use of a reinforcer assessment procedure. The use of social interactions as reinforcers has several advantages over tangible and edible stimuli in skill acquisition and behavior modification programs. For example, they are inexpensive, more practical, less stigmatizing, and promote greater generalization. This study examined a procedure to assess preference for social interactions with individuals with developmental disabilities. A paired-choice preference assessment was implemented; social interactions were presented using 5 second videos of the child engaging in the specified social interaction with the experimenter. Contingent upon selecting a video, the child received the social interaction displayed on the video. Reinforcer efficacy of the high-, medium-, and low- preferred interactions was evaluated using a progressive-ratio schedule to determine the amount of work maintained by each social interaction. Results showed that higher preference stimuli produced larger break points than did lower preference stimuli. Implications for clinical applications will be discussed.

Evaluation of Pre-Session and Within-Session Choice Opportunities in Preference Assessment Variations

Heather Gonzales (The University of Texas at Austin), Mark O'Reilly (The University of Texas at Austin), Russell Lang (Texas State University-San Marcos), Katherine Hoffman (University of Texas), Terry S. Falcomata (The University of Texas at Austin), Andrea Flower (University of Texas at Austin), NICOLETTE SAMMARCO-CALDWELL (The University of Texas at Austin    ), Abby Hodges (Baylor University)

It is possible that available preference assessment technologies do not fully capture momentary shifts in preference. This experiment evaluated the differential effects of three Multiple Stimulus Without Replacement (MSWO) preference assessment variations on the performance of four participants with developmental disabilities on a mastered task. No discernible difference was demonstrated via visual analysis between the Five Pre-Session Choices condition and the Five Within-Session Choices condition across all four participants for the first 10 data points. This was demonstrated through lack of differentiation between data paths in a multielement experimental design for the dependent variables of Latency to Initiation, Total Task Duration, Percentage Correct Responses, and No-Responses. Results suggested that the timing of choice opportunities did not appreciably impact reinforcer efficacy. Subsequently, a One Pre-Session Choice condition was initiated to evaluate the efficacy of a preference assessment method with lower practitioner response effort as a means to increase social validity. The introduction of this condition also resulted in undifferentiated data across all participants. Future research should continue to evaluate the effect of choice timing on reinforcer efficacy, utilizing variations of this protocol.




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