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 #392
Towards the Development of a Technology of Motivating Operations: Analysis and Clinical Application
Monday, May 25, 2009
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
North 120 A
Area: DDA/TPC; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Michael E. Kelley (University of Southern Maine)
Discussant: F. Charles Mace (University of Southern Maine)
Abstract: The concept of the Motivating Operation (Michael, 1982, 1992, 2000) has been increasingly influential on both research and practice in applied behavior analysis. Despite the intuitive appeal of the concept of the Motivating Operation, relatively little direct evidence may be gleaned from the extant literature. Specifically, the development of research technology for establishing an evidence base for Motivating Operations in general, and Conditioned Motivating Operations in particular, has lagged behind the theoretical development. The concept of the Motivation Operation holds great promise for improving the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities if technologies are developed for use by applied behavior analysts. This symposium includes three studies that specifically target developing technologies for establishing an evidence base for the concept of the Motivating Operation and applying those findings to individuals who engage in problem behavior.
An Analysis and Treatment of Chronic Thumb Sucking and Chronic Hair Pulling
JENNIFER M. DERDERIAN (The May Institute), Nicole Heal (Southern Illinois University), Gary M. Pace (The May Institute)
Abstract: Thumb sucking often occurs with other habit disorders such as hair pulling. There have been two suggested relationships between thumb sucking and hair pulling; response covariation and that thumb sucking is an establishing operation for hair pulling. In the current study a 12-year-old girl with Cri du Chat Syndrome engaged in chronic bi-lateral thumb sucking and chronic hair pulling. Classroom data suggested that thumb sucking and hair pulling covaried, thus the purpose of the study was three-fold, 1) Identify the function of hair pulling, 2) Identify the relationship between thumb sucking and hair pulling, and 3) Assess the direct effects of protective equipment (i.e., Thumb Guards ®) on thumb sucking and indirect effects on hair pulling. Functional analysis results showed that the duration of thumb sucking was highest in low stimulation conditions suggesting an automatic function. Results of the relationship analysis suggested that thumb sucking functioned as an establishing operation for hair pulling. During the treatment analysis, implementation of the Thumb Guards ® decreased thumb sucking to low levels and eliminated untreated hair pulling. Interobserver agreement was assessed on 30% of all sessions and averaged above 80% on all measures.
An analysis of Procedures to Decrease Inappropriate Behavior When It Is a Link in a Response Chain
AMANDA E. GULD (The May Institute), Nancy A. Neef (The Ohio State University), Helen Malone (None), Alayna Theresa Haberlin (The Ohio State University)
Abstract: The current study examined the effectiveness of a strategy to disrupt behavior chains, consisting of an inappropriate behavior followed by an appropriate behavior of 3 children with moderate to severe disabilities. A baseline measure was collected of each response in the chain: response one (R1) and response two (R2). Conditional probabilities were calculated to provide evidence that the two responses occurred in a predictable sequence and may therefore constitute a chain. The subsequent intervention consisted of providing the appropriate discriminative stimulus that occasioned R2 on a fixed schedule and reinforcing the appropriate response (R2) regardless of when it occurred (i.e., within the chain or alone). The results of a multiple baseline across participants analysis demonstrated that the intervention was effective in disrupting the response chains and in decreasing the inappropriate response for all 3 participants. In addition, the intervention was effective in increasing the appropriate response in 2 of the 3 participants. These results have implications for use of the disruption procedure in applied settings in which challenging behavior is a member of a response chain.
A Comparison of Procedures for Unpairing Conditioned Reflexive Establishing Operations
TRACY L. KETTERING (The Ohio State University), Nancy A. Neef (The Ohio State University), Michael E. Kelley (University of Southern Maine), Christopher J. Perrin (The Ohio State University), COURTNEY FLEMING (The Ohio State University)
Abstract: Task demands were shown to be establishing operations, evoking problem behavior to access escape, for 4 students with disabilities. Alternative communication responses were taught as an appropriate method to request escape. This treatment combined with extinction for problem behavior led to decreases in problem behavior for all students. A stimulus was then paired with the task demand during the motivating operations analysis to create a reflexive conditioned establishing operation (CEO-R) that evoked communication responses. Once data suggested that the stimulus was functioning as a CEO-R, two methods were evaluated to reduce the value of the stimulus. Results indicated that noncontingent reinforcement unpairing was an effective method to reduce the evocative effects of the stimulus. Extinction unpairing also decreased the value of the stimulus, but the evocative effects were never completely abolished. Results are discussed in terms of abolishing CEOs and the applied implications of CEOs.



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