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 #117
CE Offered: BACB
Establishing Social Reinforcers via Two Social Learning Conditions
Sunday, May 29, 2016
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Crystal Ballroom A, Hyatt Regency, Green West
Area: DEV; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jessica Singer-Dudek (Teachers College, Columbia University)
Discussant: Mara Katra Oblak (Seattle Behavior Consulting)
CE Instructor: Jessica Singer-Dudek, Ph.D.

We report two papers related to the establishment of social reinforcers, including peer observation and awareness, observational learning of conditioned reinforcers, observational performance, and the acquisition of new operants as a function of observation for preschoolers with language delays through two different social learning interventions. The first paper tested the relation between peer awareness responses and observational learning repertoires, indicating that peer awareness was a prerequisite for acquisition of new operants or new reinforcers through observation. In a second experiment, a peer-yoked contingency was used to establish observational learning repertoires. In the second paper, a peer observational procedure used to establish neutral stimuli as reinforcers functioned to increase peer awareness in free-play settings and audience-appropriate responses in social settings.

Keyword(s): observational learning, social learning, social reinforcers

An Analysis of the Relation Between Peer Observing Responses and Observational Learning Repertoires

ERIKA BYERS (Teachers College, Columbia University), Jessica Singer-Dudek (Teachers College, Columbia University)

For decades, there has been research about how humans learn through observation, however there has been little research on the prerequisites for observational learning. We conducted 2 experiments to determine the relation between peer observing responses and observational learning. In Experiment 1 we selected 21 preschool-aged participants with and without developmental disabilities and screened the participants for a) peer observing responses; b) observational performance; c) observational acquisition; and d) conditioned reinforcement through observation. The data were analyzed through a Pearson correlation. The results of the experimental comparison indicated statistical significance between peer observing responses and observational performance, peer observing responses and conditioned reinforcement through observation, observational performance and conditioned reinforcement through observation, and observational performance and observational acquisition. The correlational data suggested that the peer observing responses are likely prerequisites for observational learning. In Experiment 2, we tested the effects of a peer-yoked contingency game board intervention on the emergence of observational learning. The results of Experiment II demonstrated that only the participants with the peer observing responses in repertoire had the prerequisites to acquire observational learning from the observational intervention. Additionally, the results verified that the peer observing responses cusp is a prerequisite for observational learning, as well as the peer-yoked contingency game board observational intervention.


The Effects of an Observational Intervention on Peer Awareness and Audience Appropriate Behaviors in Preschool Children With Disabilities

LAMIS BAOWAIDAN (Teachers College, Columbia University), Jessica Singer-Dudek (Teachers College, Columbia University)

We tested the effects of an observational intervention on peer awareness and socially appropriate responses to peers in four preschool children with developmental disabilities. The participants ranged in age from 3-5 years and were selected from a preschool program that implemented a behavior analytic approach to all instruction. The children were selected to participate because they displayed little to no awareness of their peers during free play and social settings. All participants had fluent listener and speaker repertoires and emitted mands, tacts, and sequelics with adults. A series of probes were designed to test the presence of peer awareness as well as appropriate social interactions with peers. These probes were conducted across different settings, and using different peer contingencies. Pre-intervention probes showed that all participants emitted low observing responses to their peers in free play settings, and did not initiate or reciprocate peer interactions across different social settings. The independent variable was an observational intervention. The dependent variables were peer observing responses and audience appropriate responses in social settings. Post-intervention data suggest that the observational intervention increased peer observing responses in free play settings as well as audience appropriate responses in social settings in two of the participants.




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