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 #198
CE Offered: BACB
Improving Clinical Practice Through Translational Research on Conditioned Reinforcers and Delayed Punishment
Monday, May 30, 2016
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Zurich AB, Swissotel
Area: EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Christopher J. Perrin (Georgian Court University)
CE Instructor: Christopher J. Perrin, Ph.D.

The link between basic and applied branches of behavior analysis has often flowed from the laboratory to the clinical setting. This flow has led to technologies that have promoted meaningful outcomes for clients in a variety of settings. At times however, questions arise in the applied realm that are best examined in a more controlled environment. This symposium presents three talks illustrating the intersection between basic preparations and clinical practice via what is commonly coined translational research. All three talks use preparations inspired from basic research involving human participants to inform the design of interventions commonly implemented in applied settings. Two talks discuss different aspects of interventions involving conditioned reinforcers. The first talk presents data from a study which examined establishing and maintaining the effects of conditioned reinforcers. The second talk presents data examining the generalized effects of conditioned reinforcers. The third talk presents data from an investigation of delayed punishment. Specifically, the effects of a verbal rule on the efficacy of delayed punishment were evaluated

Keyword(s): conditioned reinforcement, delayed punishment, generalized reinforcement, translational research

Procedures in Establishing, Testing, and Maintaining Conditioned Reinforcers for Individuals With Disabilities

YANNICK SCHENK (Western Michigan University), Stephanie M. Peterson (Western Michigan University)

A common characteristic of individuals with developmental disabilities is a restricted range of interest. Developing procedures to establish new reinforcers could promote the acquisition of new skills and reduce decreases in motivation related to repeated presentation of the same reinforcer or natural shifts in interest. Two procedures have been reported in the research literature on establishing neutral stimuli as conditioned reinforcerspairing and the SD procedures. Few applied studies have directly evaluated the use of these procedures. Also, additional research is necessary to determine their effectiveness and whether effects can be maintained. The purpose of this study was to (a) to compare the pairing and the SD procedures in the development of conditioned reinforcers, (b) to test the effectiveness of the reinforcers using progressive ratio (PR) schedules of reinforcement, and (c) to evaluate the robustness of reinforcing effects.

A Comparison of the Durability of Specific and Generalized Reinforcers
CHRISTOPHER J. PERRIN (Georgian Court University), Cynthia Policastro-Smith (Toms River Regional Schools)
Abstract: Although commonly used in clinical practice, the properties of token economies in general and tokens in particular have received insufficient attention in the literature. One area with limited attention is that of the generalized functions of reinforcers. Specifically, the extent to which generalized reinforcers are more durable than specific reinforcers remains unclear. Progressive ratio (PR) schedules of reinforcement are well suited for this analysis as they measure the durability of reinforcers under increasing response effort. That is, a more durable reinforcer will have a higher break point than a less durable reinforcer. The purpose of this study was to use PR schedules to compare the break points for specific and generalized reinforcers. Children with autism completed computer based academic tasks with increasing response requirements to earn a) specific reinforcers, b) tokens paired with a specific reinforcer, or c) tokens paired with multiple terminal reinforcers. Results and implications for future research and program design will be discussed.

Altering Contingent and Contiguous Responding by Incorporating Rules With Delayed Punishers

JAMES NICHOLSON MEINDL (The University of Memphis), Neal Miller (University of Memphis), Laura Baylot Casey (University of Memphis)

Delayed punishers are typically less effective than immediate punishers at suppressing behavior. Another disadvantage is that delayed punishers may inadvertently decrease the responses they immediately follow but are not contingent upon. Occasionally, however, delayed punishers may be necessary, so developing effective strategies to maximize the effects of a delayed punisher is crucial. One strategy for increasing the suppressive effect of a delayed punisher is to provide a verbal rule describing the contingency related to the punisher. It is unclear, however, whether this strategy minimizes the effect of the delayed punisher on contiguous (but not contingent) responses, which would be particularly important from a clinical perspective. In this study, five college-age students engaged with a computer program consisting of four conditions: immediate punishment, delayed punishment, delayed rule without punishment, and delayed rule with punishment. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the addition of a verbal rule altered the effect of a delayed punisher on both contingent and contiguous responses. Results indicate that adding a verbal rule not only increased the suppressive effect of a delayed punisher on contingent responses, but also decreased the likelihood that the delayed punisher would suppress the response it immediately followed.




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