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.

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47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

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Symposium #361
CE Offered: BACB
Empirically Evaluating the Organism in Behavior Analysis: Applications to Preference Assessments
Monday, May 31, 2021
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Online
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Robert W. Isenhower (Rider University )
Discussant: Kenneth W. Jacobs (Ronin Institute)
CE Instructor: Robert W. Isenhower, Ph.D.
Abstract: Killeen and Jacobs (2017) suggest determinants of behavior other than what is currently specified in the three-term contingency. Among those determinants are the anatomical and biomechanical properties of the organism (O). The concept of affordance, first proposed by Gibson (1979), may be useful for understanding the relevance of O’s anatomical and biomechanical properties to behavior. When studied empirically, affordances have been quantified in terms of action-scaled ratios. For example, Warren (1984) used this concept to correctly predict whether or not participants would perceive staircases as climbable using the ratio of the riser height of the stairs (environmental property) to the leg length of the participant (organismic property). In order to empirically explore Killeen and Jacobs’ notion of O, we use two variations of multiple stimulus with replacement preference assessments that parametrically manipulate the distance to target stimuli. Both studies find that individuals reach for preferred stimuli at increasingly further distances. The ratio of stimulus distance to O’s arm length appears to interact with O’s preferences. We interpret these results both in terms of action-scaled ratios and traditional behavioral economic principles. We also discuss the potential functional relations between response effort, reachability, and the value of stimuli to reinforce behavior.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): preference assessments, reinforcer assessments, response effort
Target Audience: Participants should have a basic understanding of preference assessments and reinforcer assessments.
Learning Objectives: 1. Describe the main types of preference assessments as well as variations on preference assessments 2. Understand how behavioral economics and action-scaled ratios can enhance our understanding of the relationship between preference and reinforcement 3. Understand the importance of incorporating biomechanical and anatomical characteristics of the participants into an experimental analysis of behavior
 
Evaluating Stimulus Preference Using a Progressive Response Effort Assessment
(Applied Research)
FRANCES A. PERRIN (Rider University), Robert W. Isenhower (Rider University ), Cynthia Bott-Tomarchio (Eden Autism Services), Rachel Tait (Eden Autism Services)
Abstract: Stimulus preference assessments are widely used to determine which stimuli are likely to function as reinforcers. In the current study, a procedural variation of the multiple stimulus with replacement (Windsor, Piché, & Locke, 1994) preference assessment was conducted, where the distance to the most preferred item was parametrically manipulated to assess the relationship between preference and response effort. Four children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) participated. Five stimuli were presented on a line 4 inches in front of the learner. During the first minute all stimuli remained on the line, and each stimulus was immediately replaced when selected. The stimulus selected most often became the target. Target distances were 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, and 25 inches. In the ascending sequence, the target was moved to the next line further from the learner each subsequent minute. In the descending sequence, the target was moved to the furthest line after the initial minute and was then moved closer each subsequent minute. Data were collected on the number of selections to each stimulus at each distance. Participants selected target stimuli at that required more effort. Results are discussed in terms of behavior economic principles.
 

Examining the Relationship Between Reachability and Preference Using a Progressive Response Effort Assessment

(Applied Research)
ROBERT W. ISENHOWER (Rider University ), Frances A. Perrin (Rider University), Cynthia Bott-Tomarchio (Eden Autism Services), Rachel Tait (Eden Autism Services)
Abstract:

Formal stimulus preference assessments are widely used to determine which stimuli are likely to function as reinforcers during intervention. However, the relationship between preference and reinforcement needs further examination. This study used a procedural variation of the multiple stimulus with replacement (Windsor, Piché, & Locke, 1994) preference assessment where the distance to each preferred item was parametrically manipulated. Five stimuli identified as preferred using a paired choice assessment (Fisher et al., 1992) were presented on a line about 4 inches in front of the learner. Stimuli were immediately replaced when selected. During the distance manipulation phase, each time a stimulus was selected it was replaced at a line three inches further from the participant until stimuli were almost out of reach. Four children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) participated. Data were collected on the cumulative number of selections of each stimulus as well as the distance from the learner when selected. Results suggest that the effort of the response—measured in terms of stimulus distance from the learner—affected how participants allocated responding to the stimuli. Results are discussed with reference to affordances (Gibson, 1979) and the benefit of incorporating the organism (Killeen & Jacobs, 2017) into behavior analysis.

 

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