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

Previous Page


Paper Session #412
Operant Conditioning in Humans
Monday, May 26, 2014
2:00 PM–3:50 PM
W175c (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: EAB
Chair: Kathleen Doolan (The University of Wiakato)

Behavioral Variability in Humans: Do Instructions Make a difference?

Domain: Basic Research
KATHLEEN DOOLAN (The University of Wiakato), Lewis A. Bizo (The University of Waikato), James S McEwan (The University of Waikato)

Previous research shows that reinforcement of variable responding will facilitate sequence learning in rats but may interfere with sequence learning in humans. The present study aimed to explore the notion of sequence difficulty in humans by manipulating both sequence length (6-12 items) and task instruction. Participants were randomly allocated to one of two groups: Control and Variable. In the control group sequences were only reinforced if they were the target sequence, in the variability groups sequences were concurrently reinforced on a Variable Interval 60-s schedule if the just entered sequence met a variability criterion and for every production of the target sequence. With the instructions--to earn as many points as possible by figuring out the correct sequence--the six-item sequence (122121) Control group were most likely to produce the target sequence, while for the twelve digit sequence (221112211121) there was no difference between the two groups. The Variable group were most likely to produce the target sequence for the intermediate nine-digit sequence (112212121). Preliminary findings on the same task without instructions suggest comparable findings. The use of sequence length as a definition of sequence difficulty in both the current and previous studies and the potential role of instructions are discussed.

Pilot Study for the Meta-Analysis of N=1 Experiments Based on Classroom Behavior
Domain: Basic Research
RAY BROGAN (Kaplan University)
Abstract: Many studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of n=1 experiments particularly as they apply to improving classroom behavior. One common concern is that it is difficult to generalize from the results of n=1 experiments. Therefore, questions arise regarding the overall effectiveness. Because the typographies of the various applications are intrinsically different, replications of successful studies become difficult at best. Therefore, the external validity of any given study can only be established by the power of that study, recognized as a dramatic change from baseline due to the treatment. The meta-analysis is the research procedure used to determine if there is consistent power across many studies addressing the same research phenomenon. Because the n=1 experiments are so difficult to replicate, the meta-analysis can be complicated; however, for the same reason, a meta-analysis can shed some light on efficiency of the n=1 experiment. Using archival data collected from various sources, this presentation will demonstrate how a meta-analysis could be conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of the N=1 experiment.

Investigating the Contributions of Mimicked and Relative Pitch to the Acquisition of Absolute Pitch

Domain: Applied Research
BENJAMIN REYNOLDS (University of Nevada, Reno), Linda J. Parrott Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)

The direct instruction of music skills constitutes an endeavor of applied relevance which could help expand behaviorally-oriented instructional approaches into the domain of music education. This presentation conceptualizes musical behavior as codic intraverbal behavior and compares the development of relative pitch repertoires and alphabetization repertoires to demonstrate their similarities. Data from participants with a variety of musical training backgrounds are shown demonstrating that pitch accuracy in the absence of observable prompts, or absolute pitch, can be modified through operant reinforcement. Procedurally, this design consists of 8 progressive training conditions, each consisting of 8 nonrepeating notes in C major, trained in 2 phases: 1) changing criterion pitch accuracy training for steps 1-3, and 2) progressive prompt fading training for steps 4-8. To progress from step to step, participants must sing with at least 75% accuracy for 3 concurrent trials. Probes, or app checks, are performed at the beginning and end of each session and after each progression standard is met consisting of 5 random notes in C major given no feedback. Most results indicate progressive improvements in probe performance followed by end of session declines in accuracy possibly due to fatigue or time in the absence of auditory feedback.


Systematic Operant Bias in Human Participants: Methodological Interactions

Domain: Basic Research
LAURILYN DIANNE JONES (The Mechner Foundation), Francis Mechner (The Mechner Foundation)

Any type of behavioral research which requires participants to perform more than one operant behavior presents a potential methodological problem: pre-existing bias amongst the participants for one operant over another. In a series of almost 20 experiments taking place over a period of three years, the same nine operants, each consisting of a non-word sequence of letters typed on the computer keyboard, were used to study choice in adult human participants. The experiments, though different, followed a similar format: each consisted of a number of learning sessions, during which participants practiced these nine operants under differing conditions which constituted the programmed independent variable of the study, followed by a final test session in which participants were allowed to choose between them. The type of final session also differed from experiment to experiment. Analysis of this body of data allows for a unique opportunity to study systematic operant bias among human participants in depth, with the ability to make direct comparisons of choice of the same operants under different methodological conditions. Slight overall operant bias was observed, as well as interaction effects between the general operant bias and specific methodological artifacts of each experiment.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh