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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #41
CE Offered: BACB
Novel Applications of Demand Curve Analyses to Evaluate Reinforcer Efficacy in Laboratory and Applied Contexts
Sunday, May 29, 2016
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Zurich FG, Swissotel
Area: EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Matthew Novak (University of Kansas)
Discussant: Derek D. Reed (University of Kansas)
CE Instructor: Derek D. Reed, Ph.D.
Abstract: Progressive ratio (PR) schedules of reinforcement are commonly used in basic research to assess reinforcer efficacy and are often evaluated within a behavioral economic context using demand curve analyses. Recent research has also demonstrated the value of using PR schedules in applied contexts, such as when evaluating preference with individuals with disabilities or identifying reinforcers for use in an organizational incentive system. This symposium includes both basic and applied researchers to explore novel applications of demand curve analyses with progressive reinforcement contingencies. The first paper (Jarmolowicz, Sofis, & Hale) evaluated the relative valuation of food rewards for nonhuman animal models of obesity in a laboratory setting. The second paper (Henley & DiGennaro Reed) compared the effects of different incentive magnitudes on work performance and assessed the predictive validity of a hypothetical work task in an online work environment. The remaining papers took place in clinical settings and included an evaluation of (1) the generality of preference assessment outcomes as response requirements increase (Castile & Bourret), and (2) shifts in reinforcer preference and efficacy following differential reinforcement of appropriate toy play (Wiggins et al.).
Keyword(s): Behavioral Economics, Demand, Reinforcer Efficacy
On the Valuation of Food in Animal Models of Obesity: Progressive and/or Increasing Schedule Analysis
DAVID P. JARMOLOWICZ (University of Kansas), Michael Sofis (University of Kansas), Luanne Hale (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Approximately two thirds of all US citizens are either obese of overweight. Because of the widespread comorbidity between overweight/ obesity and health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, these high rates of obesity/overweight are a pressing societal concern. Although considerable progress has been made on elucidating various aspects of this condition, the precise gene by behavioral interactions that cause obesity remain unclear. The Obese Zucker rat is an animal model of obesity which resulted from a spontaneous mutation in the genes that encode for the processing of leptin. With the Obese Zucker rat being one of the earliest obesity models, considerable information is available regarding their physiological profile. Less, however, is known about these models’ behavioral profile. For example, although Obese Zucker rats discount delayed rewards at higher rates than controls, and have higher response rates than controls at some schedule values, a comprehensive profile of these models relative valuation of food rewards across a range of schedule parameters remains underdeveloped. The present study examined Obese Zucker and Lean Zucker rats responding across a range of progressive and/or increasing schedule arrangements.
Effects of Incentive Magnitude on Work Performance and Predictive Validity of a Hypothetical Work Task
AMY J. HENLEY (University of Kansas), Florence D. DiGennaro Reed (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Behavioral economics is an approach to understanding decision-making and behavior by integrating principles from behavioral science and microeconomics (Hursh, 1980). Recently, researchers have effectively applied behavioral economic demand curve analyses to employee behavior. This study sought to employ demand curve analyses to evaluate the effects of three incentive magnitudes on quantity and accuracy of work completion and the correspondence between observed performance and participant self-reports of projected work performance. Participants included 289 Amazon Mechanical Turk Workers who completed a work task assessed with a progressive ratio schedule. Participants were assigned to one of three incentive magnitudes ($0.05, $0.10, and $0.20) available in exchange for the completion of each ratio requirement. The work task required participants to slide a visual analog scale to match a target number. The results indicate demand was highest for the $0.05 incentive and lowest for the $0.20 incentive for actual and self-reported performance. Within each incentive magnitude, aggregate demand did not differ between actual and self-reported work performance. Accuracy on the work task was significantly higher in the $0.05 condition. Predictive validity of self-reported performance improved as the incentive magnitude increased. These results may inform the development of novel methods for identifying functional reinforcers in organizations.
Using Demand Curves to Determine the Generality of Preference Assessment Outcomes
ALLISON JOSEPHINE CASTILE (New England Center for Children), Jason C. Bourret (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Choice behavior on a concurrent schedule is not only sensitive to the other available items, but the price, or the amount of work required to gain access to the item, matters. Research in the field of behavior economics has supported this assertion, demonstrating that work requirements on different fixed-ratio (FR) schedules may yield differences in reinforcing efficacy of the items assessed. As practitioners, this point may be of interest when thinking about what reinforcers to deliver during skill acquisition or behavior reduction programs. Since preference assessments are conducted at a low schedule value (i.e., FR1), there may be reason to believe that preference shifts may occur if an individual was offered the same choice between stimuli after completing an increasing amount of work. The purpose of the current study is to extend the results of the current literature assessing the generality of preference assessment outcomes and test to see if the results fit traditional demand curve analyses, by assessing preference for all stimuli from initial preference assessments at higher FR values. Interobserver agreement was collected for all five participants, for at least 33% of sessions, agreement ranged from 93-100% agreement.
Evaluating Shifts in Preference and Reinforcer Efficacy of Leisure Items Following Differential Reinforcement of Appropriate Toy Play
MEGAN WIGGINS (Marcus Autism Center), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center), Kerri C. Suiter (Marcus Autism Center), Seth B. Clark (Marcus Autism Center), Summer Gholston (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: The identification of items that serve as reinforcers is essential to the success of any reinforcement-based intervention program. Thus, it is important to expand preferences to provide effective services for individuals with limited interest in activities. Several studies have shown respondent and operant conditioning procedures can be used to establish previously neutral or low preferred stimuli as conditioned reinforcers (Eason et al., 1982; Delgado et al., 2009; Greer et al., 1985; Hanley et al., 1999; Hanley et al., 2003; Miguel et al., 2002; Nuzzolo-Gomez et al., 2002; Smith et al., 1996; Sundberg et al., 1996; Tsai & Greer, 2006; Yoon & Bennett, 2000). However, less attention has been dedicated to evaluating the degree to which conditioned low preference leisure items/activities will serve as reinforcers, and the degree to which preference may be altered following conditioning procedures. The focus of this project was to evaluate if preference and/or reinforcing efficacy could be increased through conditioning procedures for individuals with limited interest in activities. Preference did not increase for 3/3 participants, and the results regarding reinforcer efficacy were mixed. Potential factors in producing these results are discussed.



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