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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Symposium #528
CE Offered: BACB
Displacement and Diverse Applications of Preference and Reinforcer Assessments
Monday, May 27, 2019
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Hyatt Regency West, Ballroom Level, Regency Ballroom D
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Kimberley L. M. Zonneveld (Brock University)
CE Instructor: Kimberley L. M. Zonneveld, Ph.D.
Abstract: Given that reinforcers are integral to the success of behavioral interventions, it is imperative to assess and identify individuals’ preference for and the efficacy of these stimuli used during behavioral interventions. Previous researchers have found that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities tend to show a preference for certain stimulus classes over others; however, the extent to which this phenomenon generalizes to different populations and to novel stimulus classes remains unclear. In the first presentation, Carter and colleagues will present two studies (a) evaluating typically developing children’s preferences for edible and leisure stimuli and (b) comparing the reinforcing efficacy of the top-ranked stimulus from each class. In the second presentation, Schieber and colleagues will present a study evaluating the preferences of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for (a) social and non-social visual images and (b) social and tangible reinforcers followed by an evaluation of the reinforcing potency of the highest-ranked events of each class. In the third presentation, Martin and colleagues will present a study investigating the preferences of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities for electronic leisure and edible stimuli and the social validity of these outcomes.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): displacement, preference assessment, reinforcer assessment, social motivation
Target Audience: Researchers and practitioners
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) analyze the results of combined-class preference and reinforcer assessments, (2) discuss the social validity of preference and reinforcer assessment outcomes, and (3) compare the preference for and reinforcer potency of stimuli from various stimulus classes.
Displacement of One Stimulus Class Over Another Stimulus Class: A Systematic Replication
ADAM CARTER (Hamilton Health Sciences), Kimberley L. M. Zonneveld (Brock University)
Abstract: Previous researchers have found that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities tend to prefer edible over leisure stimuli and that, when compared, leisure stimuli tend to function as less effective reinforcers than edible stimuli. This same phenomenon has not yet been investigated with typically developing children. In Study 1, we evaluated the preference for leisure and edible stimuli in a combined-class MSWO assessment with 15 typically developing children. Five of 15 participants preferred edible stimuli over leisure stimuli, 3 of 15 participants preferred leisure stimuli over edible stimuli, and the remaining 7 of 15 participants did not show a preference for one stimulus class over the other. In Study 2, we compared the reinforcer potency of the top-ranked stimulus from each class with 7 of the 8 participants who showed displacement of one stimulus class over the other. Four of 7 participants allocated more responding to the free-operant task associated with the top-ranked stimulus identified in the combined-class MSWO, and 3 of 7 participants showed no differences in responding to the free-operant task regardless of the stimulus rank.
Does Selection of a Toy Image Over a Facial Image Predict Insensitivity to Social Reinforcers?
ELIZABETH SCHIEBER (University of Florida), Iser Guillermo DeLeon (University of Florida), Nathalie Fernandez (University of Florida), Kissel Joseph Goldman (University of Florida)
Abstract: In this study, nine children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) first completed a tablet-based preference assessment (PA) for social and nonsocial visual images to replicate a recent study suggesting diminished social motivation in children with ASD. Then, we repeated the PA while providing post-choice access to the reinforcers. Next, children completed separate paired-stimulus PAs for social and tangible reinforcers followed by a combined PA to determine if tangible reinforcers would displace social reinforcers in preference hierarchies. Finally, we used concurrent-schedule reinforcer assessments to measure response allocation among the highest-ranked events of each class. Collectively, the results showed: a) the tablet-based PA most often resulted in indifferent choice patterns; b) choices were more differentiated when we provided post-choice access; c) tangible reinforcers often displaced social reinforcers in combined PSPAs; but d) response rates for the most preferred social reinforcer were higher than the tangible reinforcer (four children), and when they were not (five children), the social reinforcer nonetheless supported response rates above a no-reinforcement control. Overall, the results suggest a relative preference for tangible stimuli does not necessarily indicate that social reinforcers are ineffective.

Evaluating Preference for Electronic Compared to Edible Items in Children With Developmental Delays

CLARISSA MARTIN (Marcus Autism Center), Mindy Christine Scheithauer (Marcus Autism Center), Stephanie Trauschke (Marcus Autism Center)

Past research has shown displacement of leisure items by edible items in preference assessments with children with developmental delays (e.g., DeLeon, Iwata, & Roscoe, 1997). In recent years, there has been increased use of electronics as reinforcers and caregiver report shows children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) spend more time with electronics than typically developing siblings (Mazurek, 2013). This study compared preference for electronic leisure to edible items. Participants were children with developmental and intellectual disabilities admitted to a day program for toilet training or challenging behavior. All participants completed separate preference assessments for leisure and edible items as standard of care. When the most preferred leisure item was an electronic, we conducted a combined preference assessment evaluating the top three leisure and edible items. Results for the first 10 participants show that half (n=5) of participants preferred the electronic item over edible items. Compared to past research on displacement by edible items, this suggests that electronic items may be less likely to be displaced. The importance of conducting preference assessments in clinical work and selecting reinforcers considering preference and social validity are discussed.




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