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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #342
Implications for Behavior Analysis in Cyber/Online Behaviors
Sunday, May 29, 2022
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Meeting Level 1; Room 153A
Area: EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Paul Romanowich (Gonzaga University)
Abstract: This symposium details different ways that potentially problematic online/cyber behaviors can be assessed. This includes the general notion of individuals wanting to use the internet less often, to more specific problem behaviors like cyberbullying and susceptibility to online scams. Each presentation also suggests treatment implications with the measurement tools used to asses the problematic online/cyber behaviors.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): cyberbullying, functional assessment, internet, social discounting
A Preliminary Functional Assessment of Internet Use
(Basic Research)
ELIZABETH KYONKA (California State University - East Bay), Andrea Lumabas (California State University East Bay), Rinisha Naidu (California State University-East Bay), Ezekiel Torres (California State University East Bay)
Abstract: We developed and piloted a self-report instrument to assess positive and negative reinforcement that maintain individuals’ internet use. The initial questionnaire includes five items putatively related to each of six possible functions: positive reinforcement in the form of tangible benefits, attention, or sensory reinforcement, and escape from demand, offline social interaction, or private events. Sixty-one introductory psychology students rated each item on a Likert frequency scale with 7 options (never-always) for course credit. Students endorsed items related to escape from demand most frequently and items related to tangible benefits and social avoidance least frequently. Eighteen students (29%) reported wanting to change the way they used the internet. Compared to students who did not report wanting to change their internet use, those students estimated spending 7 more hours per week online (t(59) = 1.36, p<.001, d = 0.38). They also endorsed specific items related to avoiding feelings and social confrontation more frequently than students who did not want to change. Regardless of whether self-report measures are veridical records of behavior, they may be useful in characterizing key differences between groups and in identifying possible interventions for individuals who want to change their own behavior.

Social Discounting in Bystanders' Helping Cyberbullying Victims

(Basic Research)
YUSUKE HAYASHI (Pennsylvania State University, Hazleton)

The goal of the present study was to examine a role of social discounting in bystanders’ helping cyberbullying victims. College students completed a novel social-discounting task with a hypothetical scenario, in which they encountered cyberbullying instances as a bystander and rated their likelihood of helping cyberbullying victims versus taking no action. Across trials, the social distance to the victims was manipulated, ranging from the person who is emotionally closest to the participants to a mere acquaintance. In addition to this novel social-discounting task with a cyberbullying scenario, the participants also completed a social-discounting task with hypothetical money. The results from the novel social-discounting task showed that the likelihood of helping victims decreased as a hyperbolic function of the social distance to the victims, and the likelihood was significantly greater for participants who had an experience of helping victims. The results also showed that the rates of discounting in the novel social-discounting task were significantly correlated with those in the social-discounting task with hypothetical money. These findings support the importance of the social discounting process in bystanders’ decision to help victims. Implications for developing effective interventions strategies are discussed.

The Relationship Between Social Discounting for Personal Information and Cybersecurity Behaviors
(Basic Research)
PAUL ROMANOWICH (Gonzaga University)
Abstract: Discounting research has been very influential, in part, due to the predictive validity of discounting rates for a range of important behaviors. For example, individuals who have higher delay discounting rates (i.e., are more likely to choose a smaller more immediate reward) also tend to engage in other risky behaviors (i.e., binge drinking, unprotected sexual intercourse, etc.). The current set of studies explored how social discounting for personal information (SDPI) may predict maladaptive behaviors related to cybersecurity. The SDPI task asked 96 undergraduate students how much personal information (e.g., PIN #, medical information, passwords) they would be willing to share with a person at a given social distance. Results showed that the SDPI task resulted in hyperbolic discounting function as social distance increases for college-aged students, like questions about hypothetical monetary rewards at two magnitudes (Figure 1). A second study with 33 undergraduate students replicated this finding and showed that there was a significant negative relationship between personal information discounting rate and self-reported ability to take precautions against online scams via a Cybersecurity Awareness Scale (Table 1). The current presentation will discuss these findings along with relationships between social discounting for personal information and clicking on phishing emails.



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