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 #88
CE Offered: BACB
Methodological Evaluation of Behavior of Populations Using Stage Theory
Sunday, May 29, 2016
2:00 PM–3:50 PM
Crystal Ballroom A, Hyatt Regency, Green West
Area: DEV; Domain: Translational
Chair: Sarthak Giri (Caldwell University)
Discussant: Saranya Ramakrishnan (Core Complexity Assessments)
CE Instructor: Michael Lamport Commons, Ph.D.

The methodology used by many studies in the social sciences and even behavioral science is severely lacking. This symposium works towards identifying flaws and offering suggestions for improving methodology in behavioral studies. The presentations in this symposium will include a critique on the methodology used in social science that includes composite variables and a lack of empirical evidence-based explanations. In addition they will offer a critique of a common method used for evaluating smarts, IQ tests, and offer an alternative behaviorally based method, behavioral developmental Stage. The effectiveness of instruments based on behavioral developmental Stage will evaluated in another presentation, as well as the benefit of using reinforcement and gamification to increase Stage of performance on these instruments. Finally a methodological study on charting behavioral progress will help to offer an improved manner to assess effectiveness of behavioral interventions. In total, the presentations in this symposium will help to foster a discussion on the methodologies used in behavioral analysis and beyond, and how they can be built and improved upon.

Keyword(s): behavioral interventions, behavioral progress, Methodology, Stage Theory

Exploring the Differences Between Social and Behavioral Science

Disti Adhikari (Colby-Sawyer College), Michael Lamport Commons (Harvard Medical School), PATRICE MARIE MILLER (Salem State University)

Even though social science and behavioral science are interconnected and both study organization of behaviors, there are some noteworthy differences between them in the level of scientific analysis and various dimensions of conduct. Social science is the study of the relationships between macro type variables, like culture and society, and micro variables such as how people behave in very well specified situations. Behavioral research, on the other hand, is the study of the dependent variable which is almost always some kind of relatively directly observable behavior. The independent variables are multiple single dimensionals that measure the environmental situation and other contingencies (Bush & Kennedy, 1985). There are some important distinctions between the two fields in terms of operationalization and the use of composite variables. Claims that social science is both theoretically informed and empirically driven, committed to developing evidence-based observations, descriptions and explanations through theoretical and empirical investigations does not hold true in the absence of true or quasi-independent non-composite variables. Social science can expand their social value by implementing research methods more like behavioral science. Further, behavioral science needs to expand its scope to take on social science issues.

A Behavioral Developmental Perspective on Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Tests
KYLE FEATHERSTON (The College of William & Mary ), Michael Lamport Commons (Harvard Medical School)
Abstract: Although Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests are the most common and largely accepted measurement of how “smart” a person is, whether they are not behaviorally based. They are only moderately correlated with behaviors such as job performance and school grades. This paper will discuss the relationship between IQ tests and their corresponding Order of Hierarchical Complexity Behavioral Developmental Stage Scores based on the Model of Hierarchical Complexity (MHC). The verbal comprehension index (VCI) scales of Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale- Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV) were used for scoring. This paper will demonstrate that, according to the Hierarchical Complexity Scoring System (HCSS), the WAIS-IV fails to test verbal intelligence beyond the formal stage. This demonstrates the ceiling effect of the Verbal Comprehension Index of the WAIS-IV test. This study used Rasch analysis to demonstrate that the difficulty of items on the VCI of the WAIS-IV test can be largely explained by a behavioral developmental sequence using the HCSS. Difficulties with scoring items due to their lack of behavioral basis and the implications will be discussed.
Stage Changes Only With Reinforcement and Gamification
DISTI ADHIKARI (Colby-Sawyer College), Michael Lamport Commons (Harvard Medical School)
Abstract: Psychological assessment of capability across cultures is a difficult process. It is often muddled by the ethnocentric content laden approaches used to assess the cognitive abilities of people in different cultures. The current study is designed to be content centric by keeping it consistent to previous studies such as Moral dilemma problems in Mexicali (Commons, Galaz-Fontes, & Morse, 2006) and previous Nepal studies (Giri, Commons, & Tuladhar, June 2014; Upadhyaya, Giri & Commons, 2014). Forty non-literate Nepalese adults were given two stage-based isolation of variables instruments. Both the thatched roof problem and laundry problem were derived from Inhelder and Piaget’s (1958) pendulum problem. These simple causality detecting problems were put into behavioral developmental form. The thatched roof problem, very similar to laundry only differing in context, was used as the training instrument. Thatched roof was administered individually. Laundry instrument was used as a transfer task. Laundry instrument was gamified and the correct responses were reinforced with money. For the laundry task, the participants were divided into groups such that the participants could win points for the group for each correct answer. The winning group won additional reinforcement as bonus to be divided equally among all group members.

Changing Single Subject Data Into Group Designs for Showing Intervention Effectiveness

Disti Adhikari (Colby-Sawyer College), MICHAEL LAMPORT COMMONS (Harvard Medical School)

Although individual charting can be an effective way to demonstrate progress, it does not allow for comparisons of effectiveness using traditional statistical standards. Due to the increasing need for evidence of effectiveness of interventions it is important that there be a way to compare interventions. Therefore, this paper proposes a method to aggregate individual data into group data. First, an individuals progress is documented along a behavioral-developmental sequence, using the Model of Hierarchical Complexity (MHC). Sequencing through MHC is important because acquisition of individual, possibly helpful behaviors does not always represent development. A behavioral aim can then be selected and behavior can be tracked depending on whether developmental tasks are completed. The effects of contingent reinforcement and training on correct response is analyzed. It is then demonstrated how to specify regression to estimate progress in a subdomain, and how to generalize findings to all participants. The implications and limitations of this method and future directions are discussed.




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