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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Paper Session #62
Human Operant Schedules of Reinforcement
Saturday, May 25, 2019
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Swissôtel, Concourse Level, Zurich BC
Area: EAB
Instruction Level: Basic
Chair: Laurilyn Dianne Jones (The Mechner Foundation/OsloMet University)
Noncriterial Behavioral Variability and Related Operant Bias in Humans
Domain: Basic Research
LAURILYN DIANNE JONES (The Mechner Foundation/OsloMet University), Francis Mechner (The Mechner Foundation)
Abstract: All operant behaviors have multiple dimensions in addition to those designated by the experimenter as criterial for reinforcement, and behavioral variation occurs across all of those dimensions. In addition, all dimensions of an operant can reflect possible bias due to the pre-experimental histories of the participants. In two experiments designed to measure both noncriterial variability and operant bias, human participants performed an operant consisting of typing 14 or more keystrokes on the computer keyboard. The first and last keystrokes were mandated, while the middle 12 (or more) were allowed to vary. The first experiment involved nine sessions of monetary reinforcement on a variable ratio schedule followed by one session of extinction, while the second required nine sessions of continuous feedback followed by a final “test” session with multiple contingencies designed to disrupt the participants’ behavior. There were significant differences in variability among the individual participants, as well as systematic effects of the different experimental designs. Despite not being required for reinforcement, operant-to-operant variability was high overall but decreased across sessions. The “test” session of Experiment 2 resulted in a much larger increase in variability than did extinction, in Experiment 1. Looking at operant bias, there was an overall preference for the letter keys in the center of the keyboard, however the participants also showed a strong bias against center keys when choosing either the first or last letter in each operant sequence. There was also a systematic interaction between variability levels and bias measured.
A Fixed-Interval Multiple Schedule of Reinforcement as an Alternative to Reaction Time Measures
Domain: Basic Research
IVAN CHISTYAKOV (National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow). Department of Psychology), Anna Voytova (Novosibirsk State Medical University, Department of Clinical Psychology)
Abstract: Reaction time measures are widely used in psychology and some areas of behavior analysis despite controversy regarding their reliability and confounding behavior with the conditioning of behavior. Nevertheless, there is an apparent lack of behavior-analytic research on schedules of reinforcement involved in reaction time experiments and free-operant alternatives of reaction time measures. Interpretative functional analysis of Stroop task and implicit relational assessment procedure, two popular reaction time experiments designed to study so-called response competition effects, revealed that this experiments can be represented as simple fixed-ratio schedules, despite intents of their creators to use them as measures of complex behavior. We developed a fixed-interval multiple schedule of reinforcement as an alternative. The Stroop task and the implicit relational assessment procedure were replicated with this technique and a series of experiments using healthy college students as subjects was conducted. Collected data showed that responding under fixed-interval multiple schedule of reinforcement schedule of reinforcement reproduces response competition effects as changes in response rate and allows to study histories of reinforcement, responsible for their occurrence. Formal description of the technique using Mechner’s notation, collected data, and additional possible applications will be discussed.



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