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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #427

Positive Reinforcement: Not Always "Positive"

Monday, May 27, 2019
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Swissôtel, Concourse Level, Zurich D
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Christine Hughes, Ph.D.
Chair: Elizabeth Kyonka (University of New England)
CHRISTINE HUGHES (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
Dr. Christine Hughes received her MS and Ph.D. from the University of Florida in behavior analysis and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She currently is a Professor in Psychology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington where they have a Ph.D. and a Master’s program in applied behavior analysis. Dr. Hughes conducts translational research in the areas of punishment, schedules of reinforcement, and behavioral pharmacology, specifically the effects of drugs of abuse on impulsive choices and on punished behavior. Dr. Hughes has been program chair for Behavioral Pharmacology and Toxicology for the ABAI, program chair, secretary, and president of the Southeastern Association for Behavior Analysis, and President of Division 25 – Behavior Analysis of the American Psychological Association. She also was an Associate Editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and was a member of the Society of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior Board and the Science Board of ABAI.

Transitions from favorable to less favorable positive reinforcement conditions (i.e., rich-to-lean transitions) can produce aberrant behavior during the transition before work is initiated, such as disruptive behavior, aggression, and self-injurious behavior. In the laboratory, these type of transitions are studied most often under fixed-ratio schedules, in which extended pausing occurs during rich-to-lean transitions before the ratio is begun. In this presentation, I will discuss a series of experiments in which we systematically analyzed the aversive functions of signals of rich-to-lean transitions and variables that might attenuate the behavior produced during the transitions. I also will discuss the need for further research in this area overall and translational implications.

Target Audience:

Experimental and applied behavior analysts

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe the potential aversive aspects of positive reinforcement; (2) describe rich-to-lean transitions; (3) describe post-reinforcement pauses and how they can be viewed as a measure of escape.



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