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 #526
From Concept to Data: An Experimental Analysis of Metacontingencies
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Bonham B (Grand Hyatt)
Area: EAB/TPC; Domain: Experimental Analysis
Chair: Zachary H. Morford (University of North Texas)
Discussant: Emmanuel Z. Tourinho (Universidade Federal do Pará)
Abstract: The field of behavior is, in general, a science of individual behavior; however, we still have yet to firmly establish a science capable of teasing apart the intricacies of organizations of people, often labeled as “culture.” Glenn (1986) coined the term “metacontingency” which describes another level of selection that may regulate human behavior. With the concept of metacontingencies it may be possible to formulate a rigorous science of culture in tandem with our understanding of individual behavior. The presentations in this symposium exhibit several experiments conducted in order to test how the behavior of multiple individuals can be controlled by cultural (group) consequences. Together, the data demonstrate that interlocking behavioral contingencies (IBCs) can be selected through the presentation of a group consequence in CRF and intermittent schedules. A second finding is that verbal behavior is necessary for the transmission of IBCs, however further research is necessary. Ultimately, these preparations and findings will help point us towards a procedure that may serve as the cultural “lever press” that simplifies and standardizes the study of cultural phenomena.
Experimental Analogs of Metacontingencies: Preliminary Results of Various Manipulations
MARIA AMALIA ANDERY (Pontificia Universidade Catolica de Sao Paulo), Paula Barcelos (Pontificia Universidade Catolica de Sao Paulo), Rodrigo Caldas (Pontificia Universidade Catolica de Sao Paulo), Ligia Oda (Pontificia Universidade Catolica de Sao Paulo)
Abstract: Three experiments are described. At each trial one participant typed 4 numbers on a computer immediatley below 4 numbers presented at the computer screen. If the sum on each column was an odd number, participants earned points. Once the behavior stabilized, a second participant was introduced and another contingency was added without any instructions: if the sum of numbers typed by one particpant was higher than the sum genetared by the other both participants were awarded a bonus. IBCs were selected by the bonus contingent on the aggregate product of the participants’ behaviors. Participants were systematically substituted as a check of the cultural transmission of such IBCs. Experiment 1 showed selection of IBCs and their aggregate product and transmission through several generations of participants and indications that the withdrawal of bonus contingent to the aggeragte product had effects on the selecred IBCs. Experiment 2 results’ showed that selection of metacontingencies could be reached with groups of up to 4 participants working simultaneously. Experiment 3 showed that the aggregate product was not sistematically produced without the cultural consequence after 9 generations of participants. The analysis of the verbal interactions showed that participants instructed new members, promoting the selection of IBCs.
Effects of Exposure to Macrocontingencies and Metacontingencies in the Production of Ethical Self-Management Responses
AECIO BORBA (Universidade Federal do Para), Emmanuel Z. Tourinho (Universidade Federal do Pará), Sigrid S. Glenn (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Ethical self-management is an important matter in modern societies, as a condition for complex cultural environments. Behavior-analytic literature on ethical self-management emphasizes individual behavior, but not cultural processes. The present study investigates the role of metacontingencies and macrocontingencies on the production of ethical self-management. Participants were exposed to a task which is an analog of conflicting contingencies between the individual gains and the group gains. Participants had to choose a row in an 8x8 matrix in black and white. Choices produced money that was deposited in one of two banks: an individual bank, collected by the players at the end of the session; and a collective bank, divided by the players a week after the session. Choices in black or white rows produced different amounts of money to be deposited in the collective or individual bank. Preliminary results provide some evidence that macrocontingencies were/were not effective to produce ethical self-management. Metacontingencies were/were not effective to produce ethical self-management. Additional data must be collected.
Intermittent Cultural Consequences Maintaining a Cultural Practice in a Laboratory Microculture
CHRISTIAN VICHI (University of North Texas), Emmanuel Z. Tourinho (Universidade Federal do Pará), Sigrid S. Glenn (University of North Texas)
Abstract: It has been demonstrated before that cultural consequences contingent upon aggregated products related to certain Interlocking Behavioral Contingencies (IBCs) can select these products and IBCs. In this study, three undergraduate students were asked to bet tokens and choose a row in a 8x8 matrix with plus signals and blank cells at the intersecting point. The experimenter chose a column after the participants’ choice of a row. Participants either received double the bet, or lost the tokens bet, depending on the signals in the selected cell. An experimental metacontingency was applied and selected equal (condition A) or unequal (B) divisions of the received tokens, that pattern was also maintained by an intermittent application of the cultural consequences (conditions B2 and B3). The results showed that, as in operant behavior, intermittent cultural consequences can maintain and perhaps select the aggregated product and its IBCs.



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