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 #70
Experimental Analysis of Persons in Groups: Distinguishing Types of Selection
Sunday, May 29, 2016
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
Zurich E, Swissotel
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Tara M. Grant (Brohavior)

This panel presents experimental research on two selection levels: operant and cultural. A common feature of the different studies was the manipulation of both 1) contingencies on individual responses and reinforcers (operant contingencies) and 2) coordination of participant responses in small groups and their environmental effects (macrocontingencies and metacontingencies). The first two presentations will report on studies based on a procedure in which participant received points for adding numbers in relation to computer-presented numbers (operant contingency) and the coordination of numbers chosen by all participants (metacontingency). The first one will present a comprehensive analysis of a series of manipulations using this procedure such as type of cultural consequences (analogous to positive or negative reinforcement), schedule of cultural consequences and other manipulations such as group size, participant position change, variability requirements, verbal interactions, etc. The second presentation will be about two experiments on the involvement of antecedent stimuli in the process of cultural selection. In the first experiment the background colors were different according to the experimental condition, while in the second experiment the colors were maintained equal across conditions. The last presentation will be on an investigation of the relations among operant contingencies, macrocontingencies and metacontingencies. A conflict situation was programmed in which participants could produce larger magnitudes of gains for group behavior with less individual gains. The results of this conflict are discussed in terms of ethical self-control. The tree presentations combined may contribute to the debate regarding selection on different levels by demonstrating investigation methods and empirical data related to different processes and selection levels.

Keyword(s): cultural selection, culturant, metacontingency, operant selection

Operant and Cultural Selection in a Metacontingency: Distinguishing Types of Selection


A series of experiments were conducted on behavioral and cultural selection within an experimental metacontingency preparation with small groups of 2 to 4 undergraduate students. The task consisted of choosing numbers in relation to randomly generated numbers or chosen by other participants. Two contingencies were isolated in the task: one for the relation with the random numbers and the other for the coordination of choices between participants. Participants were able to produce individual consequences as well as shared consequences for the group according to those contingencies. Metacontingencies manipulated were analogous to different arrangements of operant contingencies: for instance varying ratio schedules, negative or positive reinforcement, discrimination training, etc. Other parameters manipulated were not analogous: increasing number of participants, changing participant positions, allowing or blocking verbal interaction, etc. Participant choices demonstrated processes leading to variation and selection of both individual patterns and inter-related patterns. A summary of those results and an evaluation of the analogies between operant and cultural selection will be presented.


Do the Antecedent Events Take Part in the Culturant's Selection?

FÁBIO HENRIQUE HENRIQUE BAIA (Universidade de Rio Verde), Saulo Segantini (Universidade de Rio Verde), Rafael Macedo (Universidade de Rio Verde), Lesley Sousa (Universidade de Brasilia), Isabela Lemes (Universidade de Rio Verde)

The aim of this study was to investigate if antecedent events take part in the culturants selection. In Experiment 1 six undergraduate students performed a task in two small groups. Contingencies and metacontingencies were programmed. Operants were characterized by choosing numbers in a row. Culturants were characterized by relation for the coordination of choices between participants. Two conditions were set in an ABAB design. On A condition, only individual consequences were available. On B, individual and cultural consequences were available. There were different backgrounds colors in each condition. In Experiment 2, another six students participated in two groups. The task and conditions were similar, but the background had the same colour between conditions. Results show that operants and culturants were selected in Experiment 1. In Experiment 2 the triad 1 did not produce culturants selection, hence the group was finished at first condition B. Triad 2 did not reach the stability criteria at second exposition to condition B, and was finhished too. We discuss questions about procedures that can explain the absence of culturants selection in Experiment 2.


Relations Between Operant and Cultural Selection: A Study With Laboratory Microcultures

AECIO DE BORBA VASCONCELOS NETO (Universidade Federal do Para), Emmanuel Z. Tourinho (Universidade Federal do Para)

The study of cultural practices in the experimental analysis of behavior, along the last decade, has provided important discussions concerning the relation between operant level analysis and cultural level analysis. This presentation discusses the difference and pertinence of cultural level and operant level analyses. We discuss data collected in an experiment that assessed the effects of a cumulative result of functionally independent operant responses over the behavior of participants in a laboratory microculture, when individual consequences were concurrent with the production of consequences more favorable to the culture. Individual consequences and cultural consequences differed in nature. Individual choices of even rows produced a school item to be donated to a public school (cumulative effect) plus one token exchangeable for money (individual consequence of lower magnitude), while odd rows produced three tokens exchangeable for money (individual consequence of higher magnitude). Results showed the effectiveness of the cumulative effect in the shaping and maintenance of self-control responses. Along the microcultures' exposure to the macrocontingency, a metacontingency relation emerged and recurred, in which participants alternated choices of odd and even rows. We discuss this data regarding operant selection and cultural selection, arguing for the pertinence of a cultural level analysis.




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