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 Degree Discipline: Behavior Analysis
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An 8-step program: Shaping and fixed-time food delivery effects on several approximations and undesired responses in goats.
This study investigated the effects of a shaping program for halter training across 8 steps in the program and 4 trial-terminating, or "undesirable," responses. Three La Mancha goats (Capra hircus) located at the Frank Buck Zoo in Gainesville, Texas were used for the study. A fixed-time 15 s (FT-15 s) was used during the baseline conditions, to examine the effects of response contingent and response-independent food deliveries, as well as to examine what preliminary steps might not necessarily have to be shaped. All 3 goats successfully learned to allow the halter to be placed on them and to lead on the halter, although 2 of the 3 goats required an additional task analysis for the fifth step to further break down that approximation. Several of the early steps selected by the researchers were not necessary to complete the program, as determined by the baseline condition.
Adolescent goals and their reports of what they do to achieve those Goals
Twenty-five adolescents' ranking of a set of equally highly valued goals on a Paired-comparisons Survey was compared with what adolescents say they are doing to achieve those goals. Results of the Paired-comparisons Survey showed that adolescents ranked career, interpersonal, and educational goals rather high and reputation and self-presentation goals rather low. Results analyzed with a contingency coefficient and biserial correlation indicated that not all number one ranked goals had the same value for a particular adolescent, and that number one ranked goals were correlated with verbal reports of concrete actions directed at achieving those goals.
An Analysis of Interrater Agreement Between the Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS), Questions About Behavioral Function (QABF), and Analog Assessment Outcomes
An analysis of interrater agreement across multiple respondents on anecdotal assessments was compared with experimental functional analysis outcomes for correspondence. Experiment 1 evaluated the agreement of multiple respondents on the function of problem behavior for 22 individuals across 42 target behaviors using the Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS) and the Questions About Behavioral Function (QABF). Results showed agreement on the primary maintaining consequence for 4 or 5 of the 5 respondents in 52% (22/42) of the individual's target behaviors with the MAS and 57% (24/42) with the QABF. Experiment 2 examined whether correspondence occurred between the anecdotal assessment results and experimental functional analysis (EFA) results for 7 individuals selected from Experiment 1. Correspondence between the QABF assessment and the EFA was found for 6 of 7 participants, and 4 of the 7 showed correspondence between the EFA and the MAS. This study showed that the QABF had higher correspondence with analog assessments than the MAS thus, supporting the previous findings of Paclawskyj et al. (2001).
An analysis of sample duration in a parent training program.
Although several guidelines are available for designing observational procedures in both basic and applied settings, few researchers have experimentally examined and compared different direct observation methods. Such methods may have a direct impact on practitioners' ability to effectively assess strengths and challenges, set treatment goals, adjust intervention procedures, and monitor progress. The current study compared 1 and 5 min observations to 10 min observations throughout baseline and intervention phases of a parent training program for toddlers with autism. Results showed similarities with regards to variability, level, and trend in the 5 and 10 min data samples; however, clear differences were seen in the 1 min data sample, which typically showed very low occurrences of responding and displayed steady and flat trends. The findings have implications for the development of time-efficient direct observation procedures utilized in parent training programs for children with autism.
Analyzing Contingencies of Behavioral and Cultural Selection
A choice paradigm was used to evaluate allocation of interlocking behavior of two groups of two participants between responses having operant consequences only and responses having cultural consequences. In a discrete trial BABABAB design, each participant could select one of three options, which delivered either 3 or 5 points. In B (cultural consequence) conditions, two of the options had additional effects: the 3-point option also added 3 points to the other participant's earnings, and one of the 5-point options also subtracted 5 points from the other participant's earnings. The third option was unchanged in both conditions and delivered 5 points to the participant who selected it. Results indicated that participants in both groups initially frequently produced response combinations that earned 8 points for one or the other individual (and 0 or 3 points for the other), but allocation of responding increasingly changed to combinations that produced 6 points for each individual. This shift in performances away from maximum individual reinforcement towards maximum group reinforcement indicates cultural contingencies did not act in concert with operant contingencies, suggesting they are different mechanisms of selection.
Analyzing the Effects of a Performance Pay Plan on Manager Performance in an Accounting Firm
This study examined the effect of a score card¬-based performance pay plan in a professional services firm. The plan was implemented in response to a decreasing trend in productivity and a desire for a formal incentive compensation plan. Performance of manager and senior manager accountants were analyzed across two departments over a five year period. A definitive account of the effects of the intervention is limited by the case-¬study design, but the data does suggest that the performance pay plans used did not adversely affect performances. Design limitations of the plan and future research are also discussed.
Assessing optimal sibling training conditions: An empirical approach.
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The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of play materials on the interactions between a child with autism and her sibling. Three conditions were assessed: open choice, materials chosen by the child with autism, and materials chosen by the typically developing sibling. Within each activity, measures of social interactions were assessed. Results of the assessment showed that more interactions occurred with a material chosen by the child with autism. After sibling training (targeting specific teaching skills), social interactions remained highest in the condition with materials chosen by the child with autism. The results are discussed in terms of a material assessment to optimize sibling training conditions and the importance of sibling relationships.
Assessing play interests in toddlers.
Play is a significant part of childhood. Typically developing children exhibit a wide range of interests within their play behavior, but children with autism do not. The purpose of this study was to design and implement an assessment tool that will capture the constellation of behaviors indicating play interests in young children. The Early Play Interests Assessment (EPIA) includes categories of play behavior and their components behaviors. Additionally, measures of child affect were built into the EPIA. All behaviors were observed under various environmental conditions. The results show that the EPIA was useful in observing toddlers' play behavior within behavioral categories and components and in assessing the interactions among these measures of play interests. The results are discussed in relation to the importance of creating observational systems to quantify play interests in typical and atypical children and for establishing a link between the information gathered in assessment and the planning and implementation of autism interventions.
Assessing the stimulus control of observers.
The science of behavior analysis relies heavily on direct observation. Human observers are typically used to measure behavior in applied settings. Although the use of human observers is beneficial in many regards, it also presents challenges. Of primary concern is the extent to which the data generated by observers actually corresponds to the behavioral events of interest, and the implications this may have in terms of replication. This study assessed the effects that labels, definitions, and examples and non-examples of two different modalities had on observer accuracy, consistency, and agreement. Results showed that current practices in observer training may require refinement to ensure high observer accuracy, consistency, and agreement. Suggestions for how to improve the desired stimulus control of observers are provided.
Assessment and Treatment of Multiple Topographies of Self-injury Maintained by Separate Reinforcement Contingencies
Functional analysis procedures were used to assess and treat multiple topographies of self-injurious behavior exhibited by an individual. An experimental functional analysis indicated that one topography, hand biting, appeared to be maintained by social positive reinforcement in the form of delivery of tangible items. The analysis also provided evidence that a second form of self-injury, skin picking, was automatically reinforced. To treat positively reinforced hand biting, access to a preferred tangible was arranged contingent on the omission of biting for a prespecified time interval. Hand biting was nearly eliminated, and low rates were maintained as the schedule of reinforcement was thinned to 10 min. Competing stimulus assessments identified that magazines effectively suppressed all occurrences of skin picking; therefore, noncontingent access to magazines was implemented. Using a combination of multielement and multiple baseline designs, we were able to demonstrate that the two topographies of self-injury were maintained by independent reinforcement contingencies and that interventions corresponding to each topography and function effectively treated both behaviors.
Assessment of Resident and Staff Activity in a State Residential Setting
Previous studies have demonstrated the use of momentary time-sampling methods for the objective measurement of naturally occurring events (Zarcone, Iwata, Rodgers & Vollmer, 1993; Shore, Lerman, Smith, Iwata & DeLeon, 1995). These studies have provided information about observed levels and characteristics of direct care services, supervision, resident activity and facility conditions. The present study evaluated the utility of these assessment procedures in a residential facility for developmentally delayed adults. The procedure was further evaluated for sensitivity to changes relative to an intervention designed to increase staff and client interaction. A multiple baseline design was used to assess a data collection procedure in the context of intervention in four residences on a state facility campus. Intervention included the use of scheduling, modeling and performance feedback. Results indicate an overall increase of staff and client interaction and demonstrate the utility of the assessment procedure for the evaluation of multiple, on-going activities as well as intervention effects.
An attempt to dissociate effects of response requirements and sample duration in conditional discrimination learning with pigeons.
Attempts to control various aspects of response requirements and sample viewing durations of sample stimuli show that an increase in both facilitates acquisition of conditional discriminations. Despite these attempts, few empirical data exist that demonstrate the relative contributions of both response- and time-dependent schedules. In addition, viewing opportunities of sample stimuli are present outside of the researchers' control, allowing for 'unauthorized sample viewing.' This study employed a titrating delay matching-to-sample procedure to systematically control various aspects of response requirements and sample viewing durations to independently assess their relative contributions towards conditional discrimination performance. Four pigeons worked on a titrating delay matching-to-sample procedure in which the delay between sample offset and comparison onset continuously adjusted as a function of the accuracy of the pigeons' choices. Results show sample viewing durations contribute most toward conditional discrimination performance. The data show 'unauthorized sample viewing' improved acquisition of conditional discriminations and should be a consideration in design of future research.
A behavioral economic analysis of different reinforcers: Sound-clips versus points exchangeable for money
Human operant studies frequently use points exchangeable for money as reinforcers. Some studies employ more immediately consumable reinforcers to emulate properties of food reinforcers. This study examined demand for points/money and for sound-clips to compare their economic characteristics. Across four participants, demand was often higher and less elastic for points/money than for sounds. During subsequent exposures at each response requirement, demand for sounds often decreased to a greater degree than demand for points/money. Thus, sound-clips seem less durable than points/money across prices and across repeated exposure to the same price. Response rates for points/money were often higher than for sounds, suggesting that reinforcers that generate higher response rates may be less elastic than reinforcers that generate lower response rates.
A behavioral economic analysis of the demand for money in humans:
This study investigated the effects of unit price structure, unit price descriptions, and unit price sequence on the demand for money in humans. Six groups of 3 participants solved multiplication problems in exchange for money under various unit prices. Consumption of money decreased as the unit price increased across all conditions. However, the data also showed that: (a) fixed price structures produced slightly more elastic demand than did variable price structures, (b) price descriptions produced more elastic demand under variable price structures but had little or no effect under fixed price structures, and (c) the alternate sequence used with fixed price structures produced slightly more elastic demand.
A behavioral economic analysis of the effects of unit price sequence on demand for money in humans.
Three groups of participants were exposed to different unit price sequences. Unit prices for all groups ranged from unit price 1 to 21. Analyses of demand curves, response rates, session duration, and elasticity coefficients suggest that the sequence of exposure to unit prices can affect the elasticity of demand. In addition, the size of unit price contrast, direction of unit price change, and proximity to experimental milestones also may affect the consumption of monetary reinforcers.
Breaking accidental behavior chains.
Accidental behavior chains are a common problem in dog training. Many handlers inadvertently reinforce undesirable behaviors. The behavior analytic literature already contains articles describing methods of breaking chains; however, those methods either are not used in dog training for practical purposes or are ineffective in dog training. This experiment investigated two ways to break a behavior chain, including extending the chain and introducing a delay into the chain. The results of extending the chain showed that it is possible to decrease the target behavior using this method, but it was not eliminated in this study. Adding a delay into the behavior chain resulted in a quick elimination of the target behavior.
Can analyzing infant imitation in the natural environment inform interventions in autism?
A longitudinal study of infants and their mothers was conducted to explore the development of imitation and approximations to imitation. During a 10-minute unstructured play session, researchers observed two mother-infant dyads once per week for twelve weeks, while they played at home. The data presented represents infants between the ages 5 and 34 weeks. The methodology employed was based on the methods described by Hart and Rilsey (1999). Observations were coded based on the topography of the mother's and infant's behavior and included vocalizations, facial movements, motor movements, and object manipulation. The data are analyzed and discussed in terms of its relevance to autism intervention.
Can longitudinal observations of infant joint attention inform infant interventions in autism spectrum disorders?
Infants 5-34 weeks of age were observed in their homes playing with their mothers as part of a longitudinal study. Two mother-infant dyads were observed once per week for twelve weeks, during a ten-minute play session. The purpose of the observation system is to describe contingencies leading to the development of attention-seeking behaviors in typically developing infants. Observations were coded using a type-based format (person engagement, object engagement, supported joint engagement, coordinated joint engagement, and unengaged). Child eye gaze, reaching, and grabbing were coded as well as all child and adult vocalizations. It is suggested that the data from the observation system will help inform and assess the effectiveness of infant and toddler social interventions in autism spectrum disorders and advance our understanding of attention seeking behaviors.
Can Positive Reinforcement Overcome Fear? An Investigation of Competing Contingencies
Escape maintained behavior in dogs is generally displayed by one of two behaviors-fleeing or aggression. Once aggression is negatively reinforced by the removal of the aversive stimulus, it is very difficult to eliminate from the organism's repertoire. Counterconditioning is the process of pairing a positive reinforcer with an aversive stimulus in the attempts that an organism will no longer exhibit fear responses in its presence. This process must be done gradually with small approximations. Many organisms have been trained to tolerate the presence of aversive stimuli via counterconditioning. However, this process can be time consuming and has inconsistent results. The purpose of this experiment was to monitor the effects of counter conditioning around an aversive stimulus while simultaneously training an identical behavior in the presence of a neutral stimulus. The results demonstrated that even though counterconditioning produced approach to the aversive stimulus the subject still exhibited numerous fear responses when results were compared to the control condition.
The captive animal activity tracking system: A systematic method for the continuous evaluation of captive animal welfare.
Optimal animal welfare has been a long-term goal for captive animal institutions. To measure welfare a definition and identification of elements that make up welfare need to be established. Further, a method to measure welfare's elements that can be implemented into staff's daily routine is necessary to establish baseline levels and track changes in welfare. The goal of the proposed captive animal activity tracking system is to allow for the measurement of each element of welfare quickly, while providing information regarding the animal's current state of welfare and how changes to the animal's environment affect welfare. The data show that this system is effective in revealing behavioral patterns and changes in behavior that occurred in response to environmental changes.
Choices in Reinforcer Delivery
The current study consisted of two experiments, both of which were comparisons of choice conditions replicated across four participants. Four typically-developing pre-school children participated in this study. Experiment 1 evaluated participants' preference for choosing consequent stimuli prior to engaging in academic tasks (pre-session choice) versus choosing consequent stimuli each time criterion for reinforcement had been met within the session (within-session choice). In Experiment 2, preference for choice-making was evaluated when outcomes for both choice and no-choice conditions were identical. For two participants, results indicated strong preference for choice-making.
Clarifying Variables associated with Problem Behaviors Using Structured Descriptive Assessment
This study evaluated the utility of a structured descriptive assessment (SDA) as an alternative method of functional assessment. Initially, an analogue functional analysis, conducted to assess the problem behavior of two adults with developmental disabilities, produced inconclusive results. Subsequently, SDAs was conducted in the individuals' natural environment with the direct-contact caregivers acting as therapists. This assessment manipulated antecedent variables similarly to the analogue functional analysis but allowed for consequences to occur naturally. The results from SDAs suggested that problem behaviors, for both participants, were occasioned by removal of personal items and maintained by their return. Treatments based on the results of SDAs were implemented in a reversal design and resulted in a notable reduction in the occurrences of problem behavior for both participants. These outcomes suggest that SDA procedures may be useful when results from the analogue functional analysis are inconclusive.
Comparing a discriminative stimulus procedure to a pairing procedure: Conditioning neutral social stimuli to function as conditioned reinforcers.
Social stimuli that function as reinforcers for most children generally do not function as reinforcers for children diagnosed with autism. These important social stimuli include smiles, head nods, thumb-ups, and okay signs. It should be an important goal of therapy for children with autism to condition these neutral social stimuli to function as reinforcers for children diagnosed with autism. There is empirical evidence to support both a pairing procedure (classical conditioning) and a discriminative stimulus procedure to condition neutral stimuli to function as reinforcers. However, there is no clear evidence as to the superiority of effectiveness for either procedure. Despite this most textbooks and curriculum guides for children with autism state only the pairing procedure to condition neutral stimuli to function as reinforcers. Recent studies suggest that the discriminative stimulus procedure may in fact be more effective in conditioning neutral stimuli to function as reinforcers for children diagnosed with autism. The present research is a further comparison of these two procedures. Results from one participant support recent findings that suggest the discriminative stimulus procedure is more effective in conditioning neutral stimuli to function as reinforcers. But the results from the other participant show no effects from either procedure, suggesting future research into conditions necessary to condition neutral social stimuli to function as reinforcers for children with autism.
Comparing Indices of Happiness during Teaching Interactions
The measurement of happiness has received increasing attention in behavior analytic literature. Happiness in individuals with developmental disabilities has been assessed by 1) counting a specific behavior, or 2) sampling constellations of behaviors. The purpose of this study was to examine the two approaches while observing nine child and teacher dyads at an autism treatment center. Results showed that, overall, a constellation of behaviors can yield similar patterns when compared to a specific behavior count. However, the affect of one person did not predict the affect of the other and similar instructional conditions did not predict affect either. The implications of these results and future directions are discussed.
A comparison of auditory and visual stimuli in a delayed matching to sample procedure with adult humans.
Five humans were exposed to a matching to sample task in which the delay (range = 0 to 32 seconds) between sample stimulus offset and comparison onset was manipulated across conditions. Auditory stimuli (1” tone) and arbitrary symbols served as sample stimuli for three (S1, S2, S3) and two (S4 and S5) subjects, respectively. Uppercase English letters (S, M, and N) served as comparison stimuli for all subjects. Results show small but systematic effects of the retention interval on accuracy and latency to selection of comparison stimuli. The results fail to show a difference between subjects exposed to auditory and visual sample stimuli. Some reasons for the failure to note a difference are discussed.
A comparison of brief versus extended paired-choice preference assessment outcomes.
Few studies have systematically evaluated whether preferences can reliably be identified using brief procedures. Typically, studies have used brief procedures to select potential reinforcers for use in intervention procedures. A total of 17 food and leisure paired-choice preference assessments were administered to 10 subjects in order to evaluate the extent to which the results of a brief (i.e., single-session) assessment correspond with those from more extended procedures (i.e., 5 sessions). Eleven out of the 17 brief and extended assessments identified the same stimulus as the most preferred (highest rank). Outcomes suggest that a brief assessment can be useful when a single, potent reinforcing stimulus is desired, and an extended assessment should be conducted when a larger number of preferred stimuli is desired.
Comparison of client attendance, attrition, and outcomes in 2 class system packages.
Using the principles of systems analysis as a guide, this study compared two class schedule formats used by Behavior Management and Parenting Services (BMAPS) in order to address the following research questions: 1) What effects do 2 different class formats have on student attrition and appointment keeping? 2) What effects do 2 different class formats have on student outcomes on a pre and posttest assessment? 3) What effects do 2 different class formats have on staff procedures? BMAPS provides parent education to individuals referred by Child Protective Services. The current research included approximately 200 referred clients with an appointment or class scheduled with BMAPS between January 1, 2006 and September 22, 2007. Data was collected by reviewing client files for class attendance and performance records. Results of this study allow BMAPS to enlist the class format that is correlated with better attrition rates and client outcomes.
A comparison of discounting parameters obtained through two different adjusting procedures: Bisection and up-down.
The study compared delay discounting in adult humans using two different methods of adjustments. Both methods used hypothetical choices of monetary outcomes. One involved adjustments using a fixed sequence of ascending or descending amounts, the other used a bisection algorithm in which the changes in amounts varied as a function of the subjects' choices. Two magnitudes of delayed outcomes were used: $1,000 and $10,000. A within subject design was used to compare indifference curves and discounting measures across the two adjusting procedures. Twenty four subjects were divided in two groups and exposed to the procedures in opposite order, to account for sequence effects. Results from within subject comparisons showed no systematic differences between procedures.
A comparison of the effects of errorful and errorless teaching methods on the acquisition, generalization, and retention of letter sound discriminations in young children.
The present study compared the effects of an errorless stimulus shaping procedure to an errorful fluency based procedure for teaching difficult letter sound discriminations using a counterbalanced multielement experimental design. For 2 participants, letters fsteai were taught using the errorless procedure and letters bpdvou were taught using the errorful procedure. For the other 2 participants the conditions were reversed. All participants had considerably fewer errors and fewer trials to criterion with the errorless than with the errorful procedure. Tests of retention and generalization indicate that the errorful procedure generalized and was retained at a higher frequency than the errorless procedure. For 3 participants preference for the errorless procedure over the errorful procedure was demonstrated; whereas, the fourth participant demonstrated preference for the errorful procedure.
A Comparison of Transfer of Stimulus Control Or Multiple Control on the Acquisition of Verbal Operants in Young Children with Autism: an Extension
One language intervention approach for individuals with autism involves teaching one response topography under multiple sources of control and then establishing that response under individual controlling variable. Another approach involves establishing one response topography under singular control and then using that response to establish the response topography under different controlling variables. The study sought to extend previous research by investigating the impact of each approach on the acquisition of verbal responses. Three of the eight participants acquired all target responses for at least one response topography. The results of previous research were not replicated directly and the findings were discussed in terms of preexperimental verbal repertoires and restricted interests.
A Comparison of Vocabulary Banks and Scripts on Native English-speaking Students’ Acquisition of Italian
The study applied behavior analytic principles to foreign language instruction in a college classroom. Two study methods, vocabulary banks and scripts, were compared by assessing the effects on Italian language acquisition, retention, and generalization. Results indicate that students without prior exposure to Italian engaged in more exchanges and emitted more words in script tests compared to vocabulary bank tests. Participants with at least two classes in Italian prior to the study engaged in more exchanges and emitted more words during vocabulary bank tests. Data suggest that different teaching strategies may work for different learners. More research is needed to determine efficient teaching methods and how to ascertain which approaches work best for learners with different histories.
Conditional discrimination and stimulus equivalence: Effects of suppressing derived symmetrical responses on the emergence of transitivity.
Symmetry suppression was conducted for five subjects who demonstrated a tendency to derive equivalence relations based on conditional discrimination training in a match-to-sample procedure. Symmetry suppression was applied in three consecutive sessions in which symmetrical responses were suppressed for one stimulus class in the first condition, two stimulus classes in the second condition, and all three stimulus classes in the final condition. Symmetry suppression slowed the emergence of transitivity for two subjects and prevented it for the other three. Results indicated that unplanned features of stimulus configurations emerged as discriminative variables that controlled selection responses and altered the function of consequent stimuli. Disruption of cognitive development by conflicting contingencies in natural learning environments is discussed.
A constructional canine aggression treatment: Using a negative reinforcement shaping procedure with dogs in home and community settings.
Aggression in dogs is a significant public health concern with 7.2 mortality cases per 100 million inhabitants and approximately 4.7 million dog bites annually. Canine aggression is typically viewed as a genetic trait and treated as pathology through the use of medical or respondent behavioral procedures. In this study the effects of the differential negative reinforcement of safe, alternative behaviors to aggression using distancing as the reinforcer were evaluated. The results demonstrated that even when the aggression was in evidence throughout most of the dog's lifetime, it responded quickly to changes in reinforcement contingencies.
Correspondence between verbal behavior about reinforcers and performance under schedules of reinforcement.
Important advancements have been made in the identification of reinforcers over the past decade. The use of preference assessments has become a systematic way to identify preferred events that may function as reinforcers for an individual's behavior. Typically, preference assessments require participants to select stimuli through verbal surveys or engagement with stimuli as preferred or non-preferred. Not all studies go on to directly test the effects of the preferred stimuli, and even fewer studies directly test for the effects of the non- preferred stimuli. The present study systematically identified preferred and non-preferred stimuli in adult human subjects by verbal report and then proceeded to test the effects of both verbally reported preferred and non preferred events on single and concurrent schedules of reinforcement. The results are discussed in terms of contemporary concerns regarding preference and reinforcer assessments.
A Descriptive Analysis of the Use and Effect of a Self-management Project in an Undergraduate Course in Behavior Analysis
Undergraduate male and female students enrolled in an introductory behavior analysis course with minimal instruction on self-management were given modified exploratory logs to use in a self-management project. Students self-monitored behavior via the log, constructed their own interventions, and reported changes in behavior and extent of success in a write up at course end. Changes in self-reported descriptions in the logs as well as the written results of a pre and post survey of emotional responses were counted. Successful self-management project interventions were reported by most students. Correspondence between planned and actual events increased. Negative reinforcement procedures characterized most students' intervention. Correspondence between events at pre and post and actual log reports was highest at post.
Determining the Relation Between the Moments of Acquisition of Baseline Conditional Discriminations and the Emergence of Equivalence Relations
The experiment was an attempt to gain a more precise understanding of the temporal relation between the development of analytic units and equivalence relations. Two prompting procedures were used during training to pinpoint when eight subjects learned the conditional discriminations. Near simultaneous presentation of probe and training trials allowed for examination of the temporal relation between conditional discrimination acquisition and derived performances on stimulus equivalence probes. The data show that, for seven of eight subjects, a decreased reliance on prompts was coincident with the development of equivalence-consistent choices on either all or some probe trials, which suggests that the development of analytic units is sufficient to give rise to equivalence relations among stimuli.
Developing a function-based treatment for problem behavior using a structured descriptive assessment.
This study evaluated the utility of structured descriptive assessment (SDA) to generate a hypothesis regarding the operant function of problem behavior when the analogue functional analysis (FA) failed to evoke problem behavior for an adult with developmental disabilities. The effectiveness of interventions based on that hypothesis was evaluated in the natural environment. The SDA succeeded in producing a relatively controlled baseline of problem behavior where the FA and direct observation could not. However, the extent to which treatment procedures affected problem behavior could not be determined due to confounding variables outside the control of the experimenter. The results provide cautionary evidence highlighting both the potential utility of SDA and challenges that may be encountered when conducting SDA and evaluating treatments in natural environments.
Do shared S-minus functions among stimuli lead to equivalence?
We examined the claim that equivalence classes contain all positive elements in a reinforcement contingency by asking whether negative stimuli in a reinforcement contingency will also form an equivalence class, based on their shared function as S-minus stimuli. In Experiment 1, 5 subjects were tested for equivalence for positive and negative stimuli. Testing of positive stimuli preceded testing of negative stimuli. Two of five subjects demonstrated equivalence for positive stimuli, and three subjects demonstrated equivalence for negative stimuli. In Experiment 2, order of testing was reversed. Four of six subjects demonstrated equivalence for positive stimuli, and none demonstrated equivalence for negative stimuli. In Experiment 3, positive and negative stimuli were tested together. Only one of five subject demonstrated equivalence for positive and negative stimuli. These data suggest that negative stimuli may enter an equivalence class, and so Sidman paradigm should be expanded. Order of testing was found as a meaningful variable.
Does Family Quality of Life Change? Evaluation of a Group Parent-coaching Package
Improving family quality of life is an important goal when working with families of children with autism. Researchers have attempted to measure changes by developing indices of quality such as affect, stress, and confidence. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a group parent-coaching program on measures aimed at addressing quality: a) parent confidence, stress and affect ratings; b) child affect ratings; c) the frequency of coordinated joint attention (CJA); and d) parent report of satisfaction and efficacy. Over the course of four weeks, the coaching program involved group presentations, discussions, video sharing, and problem solving, and individual in-vivo coaching sessions regarding specific child skill development. Results from the five parent-child dyads suggested increases in areas associated with quality of life. Results are discussed in the context of quality themes and mixed methods research.
Does stimulus complexity affect acquisition of conditional discriminations and the emergence of derived relations?
Despite the central importance of conditional discriminations to the derivation of equivalence relations, there is little research relating the dynamics of conditional discrimination learning to the derivation of equivalence relations. Prior research has shown that conditional discriminations with simple sample and comparison stimuli are acquired faster than conditional discriminations with complex sample and comparison stimuli. This study attempted to replicate these earlier results and extend them by attempting to relate conditional discrimination learning to equivalence relations. Each of four adult humans learned four, four-choice conditional discriminations (simple-simple, simple-complex, complex-simple, and complex-complex) and were tested to see if equivalence relations had developed. The results confirm earlier findings showing acquisition to be facilitated with simple stimuli and retarded with complex stimuli. There was no difference in outcomes on equivalence tests, however. The results are in implicit agreement with Sidman's theory of stimulus equivalence.
Easter Seals North Texas Autism Treatment Program Evaluation: Child Progress
This study reports and evaluates child outcome measures at a non-profit autism treatment program providing applied behavior analysis (ABA) based services to children age 3 to 8. To accomplish this, a review was conducted of available outcome data for a 1 year period. Several categories of outcome measures have been reported in the autism treatment literature (post-intervention educational placement, cognitive status, developmental and achievement status and/or progress, autism symptom reduction, and diagnostic reclassification). This study found that the program relied on 2 sources of data to evaluate child outcome: Hawaii Early Learning Profile® and program goal mastery. Children are making progress as indicated by these measures. The findings are discussed in relation to broader outcome recommendations.
Effect of a stimulus shaping procedure on fluent letter sound acquisition.
Numerous studies have evaluated and confirmed many benefits of errorless learning and fluency-based procedures. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the benefits of combining an errorless learning procedure, stimulus shaping, and fluency-based procedures to teach see/say letter sound discriminations to three preschool children. Participants were taught 6 letter sounds using a hear/point stimulus shaping procedure followed by a see/say fluency-based procedure. A second letter set was taught using only the fluency-based procedure. Results showed that combining the procedures reduced the amount of teaching time by up to 40% and the percent of errors by up to 50%. This preliminary evidence shows exceptional promise in application of this combination of procedures to teach letter sounds to preschool children.
The Effect of High-Probability Request Sequences on Latency to Comply with Instructions to Transition in a Child With Severe Mental Retardation
This study investigated the effect of implementing high-probability request sequences prior to the delivery of instructions to transition in a child with severe mental retardation. Data were collected on latency to comply with a low-probability request to transition and a modified version of the low-probability request. Implementation of high-probability request sequences resulted in shortened latencies to comply with the modified low-probability request instructing the child to engage in a preferred activity located at the endpoint of the transition.
Effect of Resource Availability on Dyadic Fitness
College students participating in dyads played a game designed as an analog of early hunters whose survival, as a dyad and ultimately individually, depend on rabbits they hunt. Dyadic fitness was defined as both participants being able to hunt and it was measured by the proportion of trials in a condition that both participants hunted. The effects of scarcity (alternating rich and poor conditions) on dyadic fitness were examined in two experiments. First experiment results did not show a difference in dyadic fitness as a function of the independent variable. The second experiment increased the number of hunting seasons and also the discrepancy between scarcity in rich and poor seasons. Second experiment results show that dyads start fit in rich seasons and become increasingly fit in poor seasons. External variables could not be ruled out; therefore, additional experiments still need to be carried out to clarify results.
The effect of response preclusion on stereotypy and play in a child with autism.
This study investigates the effectiveness of response preclusion on stereotypic behavior (climbing and licking) and on play for a child with autism. Data were collected on stereotypic responses, play behavior, and the types of play materials the participant contacted. Implementation of response preclusion was followed by both a decrease in stereotypic behavior as well as an increase in play behavior. Play behavior did not return to baseline levels of responding during reversals to baseline, and stereotypic behavior decreased across reversals. These results suggest the current antecedent manipulation not only reduces stereotypic behavior, but also can establish an environment that is more conducive to learning new, desired behavior.
The Effects of a Communication Training Workshop on the Verbal Behavior of Caregivers
This study evaluated the effectiveness of a workshop designed to train adults to use supportive verbal behavior during distressful situations. Participants were trained to provide descriptive, empathetic and hopeful statements using instructions, rationales, modeling, role-play, feedback, and rehearsal. A pre-post design was used to analyze the effects of the training on verbal and non-verbal behaviors of four females during simulation scenarios. Results indicate all four participants provided maximum support statements above pre-training levels during post-training simulation and written assessments.
The effects of a conflicting instruction on a FR 5 performance
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The purpose of this experiment was to evaluate the effects of a conflicting instruction on FR-5 performances by an ABABC design. After all four college students were consistently pressing 1-5-3 followed by sound-clips, the schedule value changed to FR-5 (A). Then they were presented with the written instruction "Press 426" (B) in addition to the previous condition. In the last condition (C), 1-5-3 responses were then scheduled for extinction in three participants and the reinforcer was changed from sound-clips to points for one participant. The results showed that unlike previous experiments, instructions did not override the scheduled contingencies. Instruction-following occurred only when there were no other contingencies (i.e., extinction of 1-5-3) or the scheduled reinforcer for FR-5 performances was weak.
The effects of a feedback package on the facial orientation of a young girl with autism during restricted and free operant conditions
A multiple baseline design across activities and people was used to assess the effectiveness of a feedback package on the facial orientation of a young girl with autism. During baseline, observations indicated low rates of facial orientation and high rates of gaze avoidance during conversation (restricted operant) and play (free operant) conditions. After treatment, facial orientation rates increased and gaze avoidance rates decreased to levels similar to typically-developing peers and maintained at one month follow up. These results suggest that the feedback package was effective in producing durable facial orientation across different environments and people. Possible interpretations, strengths, and limitations are discussed.
The Effects of a Group Parent-coaching Package on the Behavior of Children with Autism and Their Parents
Support for parents is an important part of treatment programs for children diagnosed with autism. Parent training programs have generally focused on prescribed goals in one-on-one training settings with measures directly related to the goals. Of interest here are the few studies that included collaborative goals, expanded measures, and group training. Benefits of such approaches include the establishment of natural communities of reinforcement and better understanding of the breadth of effects. The purpose of this study was to determine if a group coaching approach would be effective in changing a large range of parent and child skills. This experiment involved group sessions (presentations, discussion, video sharing, and problem solving) and three individual in-vivo coaching sessions. The intervention took place over the course of four weeks. Direct measures included a parent skills checklist and child target behaviors. Results indicated an overall improvement on most measures that maintained or improved at follow-up.
The effects of a human resources information technology intervention on background check processing in a financial institution: A process level analysis.
The human resources department of a financial institution implemented a multi-component intervention to replace a paper-based hiring system. Organization-wide impacts included changes in the background check operations. To support changes, training was conducted and procedure manuals distributed. Turn time for background checks decreased, but a combination of factors may be responsible. Other metrics are either inconclusive or suggest a confounding variable, yet quality of work did not suffer was maintained. Desired system use was achieved, accompanied by improvements in time-to-fill, voluntary turnover, and quality of applicants. Considerations for analysis and challenges faced are discussed, along with suggestions for further clarification and improvements.