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.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Symposium #462
Conditioned Reinforcement
Monday, May 31, 2010
3:30 PM–4:50 PM
Lone Star Ballroom Salon E (Grand Hyatt)
Area: EAB; Domain: Experimental Analysis
Chair: Eric A Thrailkill (Utah State University)
Abstract: This symposium will present a sampling of contemporary research on conditioned reinforcement. There are many notions of what a conditioned reinforcement is, does, and consists of. Consequently, the four speakers in this symposium present research highlighting different experimental procedures and methods, as well as different conceptualizations of what conditioned reinforcement is and is not. Thrailkill and Shahan extended previous research using the observing response procedure to relapse manipulations commonly used in behavioral pharmacology research. Boutros, Davison, and Elliffe investigate the function of stimuli signaling different conditions of primary reinforcement. Kyonka presents a decision model of concurrent chains choice in transition that incorporates primary reinforcement dimensions of delay, probability, and magnitude into the organism’s judgment of value. Finally, Andrade compares the reinforcing function of specific versus generalized tokens under varying motivational operations and extinction contingencies. The four presentations represent a cross-section of current research on conditioned reinforcement.
Resistance to Change and Relapse of Observing
ERIC A THRAILKILL (Utah State University), Timothy A. Shahan (Utah State University)
Abstract: Observing responses are more persistent in a context associated with relatively higher primary reinforcement rates when examined within the framework of behavioral momentum theory. Recently, we have extended behavioral momentum theory to relapse after extinction and have shown that responding in a context of relatively higher primary reinforcement rates is both more resistant to extinction and yields greater relative relapse. In two experiments, we examined reinstatement of observing in a multiple schedule of observing response procedures with different rates of primary reinforcement in the two components. Responding for food and S+ presentations was extinguished and then reinstated by free deliveries of food or S+. Baseline was then reestablished and extinguished by removing only food presentations, and reinstated by presenting food for the first response in S+. A third experiment examined renewal of observing after extinction in the presence of novel contextual stimuli and subsequent reintroduction of contextual stimuli initially present during baseline. The results show that, like responding maintained directly by primary reinforcement, responding maintained by the production of stimuli associated with higher rates of primary reinforcement relapses relatively more after extinction.
The Signaling Function of Conditional Reinforcers
NATHALIE JEANNE BOUTROS (University of Auckland), Michael C. Davison (University of Auckland), Douglas Elliffe (University of Auckland)
Abstract: According to most theories of conditional reinforcement, a stimulus that has a consistent relationship with primary reinforcement (e.g., pairing or signaling a reduction in time to primary reinforcement) acquires appetitive or hedonic value from the primary reinforcer, thereby becoming a conditional reinforcer. Not only is this inconsistent with classical conditioning research, but operant research also suggests more likely mechanisms by which apparent conditional reinforcer effects may operate. Data will be presented from an experiment in which 6 pigeons responded on a two-key concurrent schedule for food reinforcement. Interspersed between each food was a keylight stimulus. Sometimes, these keylights signaled that the next food was more likely on the same alternative, other times that the next food was more likely on the other alternative. In yet other cases the stimulus was completely uninformative on the likely location of the next food. Results support a characterization of conditional reinforcement which centers on the signaling function of the stimulus and further argues against understandings of conditional reinforcement based on acquired hedonic or appetitive value.
Determination of Value: A Quasidynamic Linear-Operator Model
ELIZABETH GRACE EVEL KYONKA (West Virginia University)
Abstract: Identifying how response allocation adapts to changing contingencies can provide insight into the processes that generate choice. Grace and McLean (2006) proposed a quasidynamic “decision model” for concurrent-chains choice that predicts expected initial-link response strength for each alternative based on comparison to a shared comparison distribution. The decision model describes choice between reinforcers that differ in delay, but does not address effects of other reinforcer variables such as magnitude and probability. The model proposed here incorporates effects of other reinforcer dimensions. It assumes that subjects make single judgments about the value of a just-experienced outcome compared to a criterion based on all reinforcer dimensions. Each time an organism experiences a terminal link, response strength increases if the terminal-link delay is categorized ‘favorable’ relative to the criterion and decreases if it is categorized ‘long’ relative to the criterion. The model describes effects of multiple reinforcer dimensions on choice in transition.
CANCELLED An Assessment of Specific Versus Generalized Reinforcing Functions of Tokens
LEONARDO ANDRADE (University of Florida), Timothy D. Hackenberg (Reed College)
Abstract: Despite its great theoretical importance, the concept of generalized conditioned reinforcement has received little empirical attention. The purpose of this study was to assess the functional properties of tokens paired with water or food (specific reinforcers) and tokens paired with both food and water reinforcers (generalized reinforcers). Pigeons were run in a semi-closed economy and the number of responses required to produce each token type (i.e., unit price) was manipulated. In addition, the distribution of responses among the generalized and specific-tokens was assessed under different motivational operations (satiation and deprivation conditions) and under successive extinction contingencies. Overall, results showed that the reinforcing function of both specific and generalized-tokens was maintained even in conditions in which the pigeons were satiated; and that responses that produced the generalized token reinforcers were more resistant to extinction and more susceptible to extinction burst than responses that produced specific reinforcers.



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