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Acceptability of Behavioral Interventions for Autism

Description: Caregivers' evaluation of evidence-based behavioral interventions may differ dependent upon the type of language used to describe the intervention. We administered a survey to 24 parents of children with autism to assess social validity measures of behavioral interventions described in one of three communication styles: technical, conversational, and conversational with intended outcome. Participants were presented with a description of two behavior-reduction and two behavior-acquisition interventions. Overall, interventions described in conversational with intended outcome style received the highest social validity ratings, while interventions described in the technical style received the lowest ratings. Moreover, behavior-acquisition interventions were rated significantly higher than behavior-reduction interventions when described in either conversational or conversational with intended outcome style. The current study supports the requirements of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's Compliance Code that behavior analysts should inform the client/consumer of the treatment/interventions in an understandable language. Findings are also discussed in terms of verbal communities.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Fatema, Afshaan

An Analysis of Interrater Agreement Between the Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS), Questions About Behavioral Function (QABF), and Analog Assessment Outcomes

Description: 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).
Date: May 2010
Creator: Smith, Carla Michelle

An Analysis of the Correspondence Between the Measures Collected by an Autism Treatment Center and its Stated Mission Goals

Description: This study was a program evaluation for an autism treatment center for the period of April 2008 through August 2011. the study extended previous evaluations of the autism treatment center. the purpose of this evaluation was to determine the degree to which the center’s measures corresponded with its stated mission goals. a number of data sources were reviewed including client records of demographic and outcome information. Findings suggest the center maintained records that allow for the evaluation of most of its mission’s goals. There were, however, difficulties with data collection, storage, and retrieval. the present program evaluation found that missing information and lack of follow-up information hindered efforts toward mission evaluation.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Kowalchuk, Holly M.

An Analysis of the Value-altering Effect of Motivating Operations

Description: Motivating operations (MOs) may affect behavior in two ways; A) an MO momentarily alters the frequency of behavior for which a particular consequence has served as reinforcement (evocative-effect) and B) an MO momentarily alters the behavioral effects of the relevant consequence (value-altering effect). Many studies have empirically demonstrated the evocative function of MOs, however, few if any studies have attempted to systematically manipulate and measure the value-altering effect. The focus of this study was to investigate the value-altering effect by measuring choice and response allocation across two alternative tasks. Participants were two female girls diagnosed with autism. During conditioning sessions, experimenters created a history for the children in which clicking on a moving square on a computer monitor produced a small piece of edible. Prior to some conditions, the participants were allowed 5 min of free-access to the edibles, and in other sessions, access to edibles prior to session was restricted. During these sessions, the square was either red or blue depending on the condition type (pre-access or restricted-access). During probe sessions, both colored squares were concurrently available and participants were allowed to allocate their responding to whichever square they chose. One participant preferred the square associated with restricted-access, which may support the notion of the value-altering effect. Difficulties during conditioning sessions interfered with the ability to run sufficient probes with the other participant to evaluate a value-altering effect. Results suggest that the use of these procedures may be useful to differentiate evocative and function-altering effects of MOs.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Devine, Bailey

Analyzing Contingencies of Behavioral and Cultural Selection

Description: 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.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Hunter, Chad S.

Assessment and Treatment of Multiple Topographies of Self-injury Maintained by Separate Reinforcement Contingencies

Description: 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.
Date: August 2011
Creator: Pace, Amy

The Behavioral Economics of Effort

Description: Although response effort is considered a dimension of the cost to obtain reinforcement, little research has examined the economic impact of effort on demand for food. The goal of the present study was to explore the relationship between effort and demand. Three Sprague Dawley rats were trained to press a force transducer under a series of fixed-ratio schedules (1, 10, 18, 32, 56, 100, 180, 320, and 560) under different force requirements (5.6 g and 56 g). Thus, nominal unit price (responses / food) remained constant while minimal response force requirements varied. Using a force transducer allowed the measurement of responses failing to meet the minimal force requirement (i.e. “subcriterion responses”), an advantage over prior approaches using weighted levers to manipulate effort. Consistent with prior research, increasing the unit price decreased food consumption, and raising minimum force requirements further reduced demand for food. Additionally, increasing the force requirement produced subcriterion responses. Analysis indicated that subcriterion responses did not create incidental changes in unit price. Obtained force data revealed that including obtained forces in unit price calculations provided better predictions of consumption when compared to using criterion force requirements.
Date: December 2014
Creator: Nord, Christina M.

A Behaviorally Planned Community of Practice: A Description and Evaluation of one Area of Staff Development

Description: Staff training packages combining instructions, modeling, practice, and feedback have been shown to be effective in demonstrating skills to work in early intensive behavioral intervention, but maintenance and generalization of the skills trained are often not addressed. Establishing a community of practice, in which staff members continue to learn and develop new skill sets from one another through shared experiences and information, may lead to the endurance and maintenance of desired staff behavior over time. The purpose of the current study is to evaluate the effects of a behaviorally designed community of practice on staff use of socially embedded consequences. The effects of the training procedure were evaluated using a concurrent multiple baseline design across two sites (7 staff members). The results suggest that the behaviorally planned community of practice was effective in reinforcing and maintaining staff use of socially embedded consequences for at least 5 to 9 weeks. Additionally, the number of learning opportunities provided by the staff and social engagement between staff and child increased.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Ferguson, Julia L

Breaking Accidental Behavior Chains.

Description: 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.
Date: May 2010
Creator: McKnight, Debra Gayle

Caffeine’s Effects on Pausing During Alternating Work Requirements

Description: There is a significant body of literature stating that caffeine is the most widely consumed drug in the world, yet its effects on operant behavior are little understood. Some of the current research on caffeine suggests that it may play a role in altering motivational states related to transitions between previous and upcoming work requirements. The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of caffeine on postreinforcement pausing during transitions between small and large fixed ratio rudiments. Eight rats were exposed to five doses of caffeine and and a two-component multiple schedule. We found that caffeine does systematically alter the length of pausing during transitions between fixed ratio requirements, however the magnitude of the effect may be dependent on the baseline rate of responding.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Libman, Benjamin M.

Can Observing Behavior Predict Performance in Conditional Discriminations?

Description: Prompts are implemented often in training procedures, to include conditional discriminations, and this can lead to prompt dependency. The current study extends a prior study that suggested that the effectiveness of supplementary visual stimuli displaying the sample and comparison was dependent on the timing in relation to the selection task, presented as a prompt or feedback, in a match-to-sample procedure. The current research examines if the differences in that effectiveness were due to differences in observing behavior in those two conditions. Measures of observing behavior were determined by making access to the individual visual stimuli contingent on clicking on the visual stimulus and keeping the cursor located on the stimulus. Participants viewed the sample comparison much less than the comparison stimulus in both the prompt and feedback conditions. Latency to select the comparison stimulus was much shorter for the prompt condition suggesting that the participants might have interacted differently with the selection task in the two conditions.
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Date: December 2016
Creator: Marchini, Kevin Julian

Can Positive Reinforcement Overcome Fear? An Investigation of Competing Contingencies

Description: 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.
Date: August 2011
Creator: Kunkel, Rebecca Ann

A Clinical Case Study of Rumination and Emesis in an Adult Male with Intellectual Disability

Description: An evaluation of a series of interventions was conducted for an individual who engaged in life-threatening rumination and emesis. There is substantial research indicating that the delivery of peanut butter (Barton & Barton, 1985; Greene, Johnston, Rossi, Racal, Winston, & Barron, 1991) and/or chopped bread following meals (Thibadeau, Blew, Reedy, & Luiselli, 1999), chewing gum (Rhine & Tarbox, 2009), and satiation procedures (Dudley, Johnston, & Barnes, 2002; Lyons, Rue, Luiselli, & DiGennario, 2007; Rast, Johnston, Drum, & Conrin, 1981) can be effective treatments for rumination. In the current case, each of these interventions was found to be either ineffective or contraindicated based on the participant's fragile health status. Previous literature has shown that liquid delivery can affect rates of rumination in some clients (Barton & Barton, 1985,; Heering, Wilder, & Ladd, 2003). We examined how liquid affected the rate of rumination during and after meals. Based on the individual's medical condition, oral nutrition and fluids were discontinued indefinitely and a gastronomy-jejunostomy tube was used for nutrition. All rumination ceased when fluids and nutrition were delivered via the jejunostomy tube. Finally, a fluid analysis procedure was implemented in which the participant received small amounts of fluid while NPO. Color and flavor were manipulated systematically, and results suggested that flavor impacted the rate of rumination.
Date: May 2016
Creator: DeLapp, Christina Marie

A Comparative Evaluation of Matrix Training Arrangements

Description: A common goal of instructional techniques is to teach skills effectively and efficiently. Matrix training techniques are both effective and efficient as they allow for the emergence of untrained responding to novel stimulus arrangements, a phenomenon known as recombinative generalization. However, it is unclear which type of matrix arrangement best promotes recombinative generalization. The current study compared two common matrix training approaches, an overlapping (OV) design and a non-overlapping (NOV) design, with respect to arranging relations targeted for training. We conducted a replication evaluation of a Wilshire and Toussaint study, and taught two typically-developing preschoolers compound object-action labels in Spanish and used either an OV or NOV matrix training design. Results from both studies demonstrated the participant trained with an OV design produced recombinative generalization and participants trained with a NOV design produced significantly low levels of emergence or none at all. These results suggest that an OV matrix design facilitates recombinative generalization more effectively than a NOV design. Implications for instructional arrangements are discussed.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Cliett, Terra N

Comparing Indices of Happiness during Teaching Interactions

Description: 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.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Anderson, Claire Therese

Comparing Response Frequency and Response Effort in Reinforcer Assessments with Children with Autism

Description: Reinforcer assessments have largely relied on the use of progressive ratio (PR) schedules to identify stimuli that function as reinforcers. PR schedules evaluate the reinforcing efficacy of a stimulus by measuring the number of responses produced in order to access a stimulus as the number of required responses increases. The current evaluation extends the literature on reinforcer assessments by measuring responding under a progressive force (PF) schedule, in addition to progressive ratio requirements. We compared responding under PR and PF schedules with two children with autism using a multielement design embedded within a reversal experimental design. Results were mixed and implications for further development of reinforcer assessment methods (particularly PF schedules) are discussed.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Litvin, Melanie Ann

A Comparison of Picture to Word Training and Word to Word Training on Native English Speaking College Students’ Acquisition of Italian Vocabulary

Description: The current study assessed the effects of two teaching stimulus presentations, i.e. picture to word and word to word, used to teach second language vocabulary to college students. It also evaluated the emergence of untaught relations when picture to word and word to word were used separately as a teaching strategy. The findings showed picture to word training resulted in more untaught relations. Several aspects such time allotted for online quizzes, experimental and teaching arrangements and vocabulary complexity were suggested for future research.
Date: December 2013
Creator: Vo, Phuong Vi

A Comparison of Transfer of Stimulus Control Or Multiple Control on the Acquisition of Verbal Operants in Young Children with Autism: an Extension

Description: 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.
Date: August 2012
Creator: Pasat, Irina V.

A Comparison of Vocabulary Banks and Scripts on Native English-speaking Students’ Acquisition of Italian

Description: 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.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Dean, Brittany L.

A Constructional Approach to Establishing and Maintaining Calm Canine Behavior

Description: Very few behavior-change programs with canines produce effects that persist beyond the training condition. The present study is an experimental demonstration of a constructional program that established calm patterns of behavior as alternatives to hyperactive ones. Three dogs that exhibited hyperactive patterns were chosen as subjects. Seven conditions common to canine-caretaker relationships were used to determine which factors resulted in the hyperactive patterns. Then, sitting and lying down were taught as beginning points using touch as a reinforcer. The final behavior, maintained by naturally occurring reinforcers, was established errorlessly. The study used a control-analysis strategy of behavior change with a changing-criterion design. The intervention resulted in an immediate reduction in hyperactivity and an increase in sitting and lying down for all dogs.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Owens, Chase

Constructional Fear Treatment for Dogs in Shelters

Description: Of the approximately 3.9 million dogs that enter US animal shelters each year, many exhibit behaviors related to fear, which can affect their likelihood of adoption. Current dog training procedures to treat fear include counterconditioning and desensitization, which can often take months or years to show any behavior change and do not teach specific behaviors aimed to increase the dog's chance of being adopted. The current study used a negative reinforcement shaping procedure to teach fearful dogs to approach and and interact with people. The results showed that constructional fear treatment increased the amount of time the dog spent at the front of the kennel, and increased sniffing, tail wagging, and accepting petting for all 3 participants.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Katz, Morgan

Correspondence between Multiple-Respondent Anecdotal Assessments and Functional Analysis: Analyses of Rank-Order, Magnitude-of-Difference, and Overall Outcomes

Description: We administered the Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS) and the Questions About Behavioral Function (QABF) to five raters and compared the results with functional analysis outcomes for 12 cases in which agreement was obtained for at least four out of five raters on either anecdotal assessment. The scores for functional categories on the MAS and QABF were ranked by averaging the scores for the raters who agreed on the primary maintaining variable. Functional analysis results were ranked by examining average responding across all conditions. A comparison showed correspondence between the highest category and the highest functional analysis condition for 10 out of 11 cases for the MAS and all 10 cases for the QABF. Correspondence for the category and condition ranked second was found for 2 out of 11 cases for the MAS and 2 out of 10 cases for the QABF. The magnitude of difference between categories on the MAS/QABF did not appear to predict the amount of difference in responding in the corresponding functional analyses.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Arnalds, Holmfridur Osk

Creating a Verbal Community for Describing Emotional Responses within a Contingency Lens: The Effects of a Brief Training Workshop

Description: Observing emotional responses is recognized as a valuable clinical skill in a variety of professions, including applied behavior analysis. Emotional responses can flag possible contingencies thereby guiding a behavior analyst to better select valid measures, goals, and procedures. Additionally, emotional responses can be goals in and of themselves. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effects of a workshop on the observation and description of emotional responses by behavior analysts-in-training. The procedures included instructions, modeling, practice, discussion and feedback. The workshop included a blend of trainer presentation and interteaching strategies. The effects of the workshop were evaluated using a single-subject A-B design with multiple probe measures across four students. During probe assessments participants watched short video clips of family interactions and wrote a descriptive narrative in response to several questions. This created a permanent record for quantitative evaluation and analysis. The study resulted in an increase in the number of descriptions of emotional responses among all participants. The participants also increased responses tying the emotional response to external environmental events more often in the post-workshop assessment than the pre-workshop assessment. Results are discussed within the context of training applied behavior analysts, the analysis of verbal behavior, and the role of emotions in clinical practice.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Garden, Regan E.

Dance: a Training Package Utilizing Videotaped Self-observation to Teach Parents to Enhance Social Interactions with Children At-risk for a Developmental Delay

Description: Previous research has demonstrated the effectiveness of programs that include a videotaped self-observation component. The self-observation protocols, however, have not been clearly specified within programs that teach and report parents’ use of general teaching strategies. The current study investigates the effects of a training package with a self-observation component to teach parents to improve teaching interactions with their children at-risk for a developmental delay using an AB design replicated across participants. Data were collected across play interactions to assess the number of parent teaching episodes, child target responses, and various parent and child relationship qualities. Relationship quality measures included parent and child affect and engagement, parent directives, parent confidence and stress, and parent and child interest. The results of this study suggest that the training package was effective in that parents engaged in higher rates of teaching, their children engaged in more desired responding, and certain aspects of the parent-child interaction were enhanced. These results are discussed in terms of the effects on the parent-child teaching interaction and implications for future use of parent self-observation techniques.
Date: May 2014
Creator: Townley-Cochran, Donna