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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Invited Tutorial #322
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Trigger Analysis with Behavioral Description: Combining Experimental and Descriptive Methods
Monday, May 26, 2014
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
W180 (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: CBM; Domain: Service Delivery
PSY/BACB CE Offered. CE Instructor: Scott T. Gaynor, Ph.D.
Chair: Scott T. Gaynor (Western Michigan University)
Presenting Authors: : ENNIO C. CIPANI (National University)

Experimentally manipulating antecedent and/or consequent variables has generally been conducted in analogue assessment conditions. In some individual clinical cases, the discriminative stimuli for problem behavior in the natural setting(s) may have unique stimulus control over such behavior. If this is the case, then a false negative may occur during an analogue assessment with one or more functions. Hence, in those particular cases, a method that would allow for an experimental manipulation in the natural setting(s) would be preferable. A technique termed trigger analysis (Rolider, 2003) requires a clinician to induce a hypothesized establishing operation (EO), with personnel in the natural target setting(s). The data collected can then provide the relative probability of the problem behavior (as well as latency data) across a number of inducements (trials) over time. In this tutorial, Dr. Cipani will illustrate such a procedure for use in natural context assessments. This assessment methodology can be enhanced by the observer providing a descriptive analysis of functional and nonfunctional behaviors under such EO inducements. By combining both the experimental (trigger analysis) and descriptive (behavioral description) methodologies, a clinician can obtain valuable information on the response class that produces the abolishing operation (AO), as well as an anecdotal analysis of behaviors which are currently ineffectual in abolishing the EO. This can then lead to a better understanding of the strength of alternate more desirable forms in the client’s repertoire (see Appendix A; Cipani & Schock, 2011 for an operant analysis of replacement behaviors). This information has implications for treatment design. A function-based classification system comprising 13 categories (Cipani & Schock, 2011) will be used to exemplify the procedures in this assessment method. In particular, Dr. Cipani will demonstrate how trigger analysis with behavioral description would apply to such functions as (A) access to attention or tangible reinforcers, and (B) escape and/or avoidance of unpleasant social situations, difficult tasks/assignments, or lengthy tasks assignments.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Psychologists, behavior analysts, graduate students, and anyone interested in trigger analysis.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants should be able to (1) Delineate the assessment procedures of the assessment method: trigger analysis with behavioral description; (2) Develop hypothetical data for a putative function involving the descriptive component of this method; and (3) Explain how this hypothetical data would suggest function-based intervention.
ENNIO C. CIPANI (National University)
Ennio Cipani, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist (since 1983) in California and a full professor in the school psychology program at National University. He has published numerous articles, chapters, books, and software in the areas of child behavior management and behavioral consultation. His books include Punishment on Trial (2004--free online for students, practitioners and faculty at and a textbook he co-authored with Keven Schock entitled Functional Behavioral Assessment, Diagnosis and Treatment: A Complete System for Education and Mental Health Settings (2nd edition, 2011; see book review at Dr. Cipani has been doing in-home and in-school behavioral consultation for families with children with severe problem behaviors since 1981. He has had clinical experience with a wide range of children who have developmental disabilities as well as assessing and treating children in the mental health and social service system (with a broad range of mental-disorder diagnoses). He has dealt with a variety of behavior problems, conducting assessment and intervention activities in natural environments (i.e., homes and classrooms) and then training direct-line people to engage in a parenting or teaching management repertoire that produces changes in child behavior. This breadth of clinical experience is reflected in the above two books, which present many case examples from his clinical practice. In addition to having his own caseload responsibility since 1981, he also was clinical director of Cipani & Associates. In this role, he enhanced his problem-solving acumen from supervising the clinical work of some of the finest master’s level employees a behavior analyst could want; most notably Steve Taylor, Ron Pekarek, Jennifer Young, Steve Witherspoon, Dr. Dan Martin, and Yolanda Bell.
Keyword(s): Trigger analysis



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