[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Contingencies of reinforcement involve, in part, relations between behavior and subsequent environmental events. In this study we observed 11 individuals with developmental disabilities and severe behavior problems while they interacted with their primary care providers in simulated environments (hospital therapy rooms). We compared the probability of obtaining attention, escape from instructional demands, or access to materials following instances of problem behavior with the background probability of those events. However, the focus of our analysis was the evaluation of comparative probabilities ("contingency values") in the context of relevant establishing operations such as diverted attention, instructional demands, and restricted access to materials. Results showed that the method was useful in identifying relations between behavior and subsequent environmental events. Implications for linking descriptive and functional analyses are discussed, and difficulties in identifying naturally occurring contingencies are considered.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We examined the effects of conditioned reinforcement on children's choice between reliable (100%) and unreliable (50%) reinforcement under various stimulus conditions in a concurrent-chains procedure. The study was conducted across three experiments. Experiments 1 and 2 were conducted under conditions similar to basic laboratory work and consisted of participants selecting from one of two black boxes (placed on a table) that were correlated with different reinforcement schedules. In Experiment 3, we assessed a participant's preference for unreliable reinforcement during conditions in which the target responses were aggression and mands. Results of the three experiments showed that the participants preferred unreliable reinforcement under certain conditions. Findings are discussed regarding the role of specific stimuli (i.e., items correlated with a reinforcement schedule, adult reactions) as conditioned reinforcers and how they may influence children's preference for a response (e.g., aggression, self-injury) that produces reinforcement on a leaner schedule than a socially desirable response (e.g., mands).
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article examined the relationship between the accuracy of academic responding and aggression for two boys with mild mental retardation. Their teacher reported low rates of correct responding and high rates of aggressive behavior during spelling instruction. A functional analysis showed that aggression was escape maintained. Following the functional analysis, participants were tested on relations between printed, photographic, and dictated stimuli corresponding to their spelling words. On pretests, they were unable to match printed words to their photographs or to their dictated names; they could neither name the printed words nor spell the photographs or dictated words. High rates of aggression were observed during the pretests. The participants then were taught the letter-by-letter construction of the appropriate words when shown photographs. On posttests, the participants correctly matched printed words to their photographs and dictated names. In addition, they correctly named printed words and spelled dictated words orally. Data showed that rates of problem behavior negatively covaried with improvements in the participants' academic responding.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We compared the effects of reinforcing compliance with either positive reinforcement (edible items) or negative reinforcement (a break) on 5 participants' escape-maintained problem behavior. Both procedures were assessed with or without extinction. Results showed that compliance was higher and problem behavior was lower for all participants when compliance produced an edible item rather than a break. Treatment gains were achieved without the use of extinction. Results are discussed regarding the use of positive reinforcement to treat escape behavior.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Impulsivity and self-control involve a choice between a smaller, more immediate reinforcer and a larger, more delayed reinforcer. Impulsive behavior occurs when responding produces the more immediate, relatively smaller reinforcers at the expense of delayed larger reinforcers. Self-control occurs when responding produces delayed larger reinforcers at the expense of immediate smaller reinforcers. Recently, researchers in applied behavior analysis have suggested that evaluations of self-control and impulsivity are relevant to socially important behaviors. Further, common behavioral treatments such as differential reinforcement may be influenced by variables such as reinforcer delay. In this study, we showed that aggression, reinforced by access to food, could be maintained as impulsive behavior. The participants were 2 young boys with severe developmental disabilities. For both participants, descriptive observations, care provider report, and functional analyses suggested that aggression was reinforced by food access (and television access for 1 participant). Next, we introduced a differential reinforcement procedure in which appropriate mands were reinforced. After various manipulations, we showed that aggression occurred when it produced immediate but small reinforcers even though mands produced larger, more delayed reinforcers. However, both participants displayed self-control when the delay to reinforcement was signaled (with a hand gesture or a timer).
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Descriptive and experimental analyses suggested that the self-injurious behavior (SIB) of a 10-year-old girl with severe mental retardation was maintained by attention. Additional analyses identified physical contact as the type of attention maintaining SIB; therefore, we hypothesized that physical proximity of an adult was a discriminative stimulus for SIB. Based on these findings, we systematically varied the distance between the participant and a therapist to assess stimulus generalization. Results showed that rates of SIB varied relative to the distance between the participant and therapist; the highest percentage of SIB occurred with the therapist positioned less than 0.5 m from the participant. Treatment consisted of placing the therapist at a specified distance (9.0 m) from the participant (during low-attention situations), noncontingent reinforcement, and extinction.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We compared the effects of extinction (EXT) and fixed-time (FT) schedules as treatment for severe problem behavior displayed by 3 individuals with developmental disabilities. First, functional analyses identified the reinforcers maintaining aberrant behavior for all 3 individuals. Next, EXT and FT schedules were compared using a multielement design. During EXT, the reinforcer maintaining problem behavior was withheld. During FT, the reinforcers were presented response independently at preset intervals. Results showed that FT schedules were generally more effective than EXT schedules in reducing aberrant behavior. FT schedules may be used in situations when extinction-induced phenomena are problematic.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We combined functional analyses and concurrent-schedule assessments to identify reinforcer preference during situations in which problem behavior may have been multiply controlled. Participants were 3 children with developmental delays who engaged in problem behavior during toy play with another child and one adult present, suggesting that problem behavior may have been maintained by adult attention or access to tangible reinforcement. Thus, conditions were designed to test attention and access-to-toys hypotheses. Initial functional analyses suggested multiple control. Subsequent concurrent-schedule assessments identified preference between the reinforcers, and treatments were based on these findings. Findings are discussed regarding the assessment of potentially multiply controlled problem behavior.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) as a treatment for problem behavior has typically included (a) continuous access to reinforcers at the onset of treatment and (b) extinction. We extended research on NCR by conducting a three-phase preliminary investigation of these components. In Phase 1, a functional analysis showed that the problem behavior of 3 participants with developmental disabilities was maintained by tangible positive reinforcement. In Phase 2, treatment started with the initial NCR interval based on the latency to the first problem behavior during baseline. In Phase 3, treatment consisted of NCR without extinction to determine whether extinction was an essential treatment component. Results showed that the initial NCR schedule based on latency (Phase 2) and NCR without extinction (Phase 3) were effective for reducing rates of problem behavior compared with baseline. Findings are discussed regarding the initial schedule of reinforcement and extinction as components of NCR.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A functional analysis of eye poking by a 4-year-old female with severe disabilities and visual impairments showed that high rates occurred in all conditions. We conducted a series of probes to identify the maintaining variable for eye poking following an undifferentiated functional analysis. Results showed that eye poking decreased only when we interrupted finger-eye contact by blocking the response.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aggressive behavior of a young boy with developmental delays occurred most frequently following a request to pick up his toys. The request ended a period of play and social interaction. This suggested the presence of multiple establishing operations. The initial treatment consisted of praise, a break, and access to the toys contingent on compliance. Results showed that aggression decreased only when we added social interaction to the break. Findings are discussed regarding treating multiply controlled problem behavior without extinction.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We evaluated the effects of extinction and negative reinforcement on the latency of response-class members following requests made to a 15-year-old female with moderate mental retardation and autism. A functional analysis showed that the class members (screams, aggression, and self-injury) were escape maintained. Informal observations suggested that these topographies generally occurred in the sequence listed above and therefore may have been hierarchically related. A therapist provided escape from demands contingent on a specific member of the class to determine the effects on the latency of the members' occurrence. Results showed that the latencies occurred in a predictable order. In addition, we expanded the response class to include a vocal response that was functionally equivalent to other members. Findings are discussed regarding the covariation and sequence of response-class members and treatment development.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We discuss Belke and Spetch's (1994) work on choice between reliable and unreliable reinforcement. The studies by Belke and Spetch extend a line of basic research demonstrating that under certain experimental conditions in a concurrent chains procedure, pigeons prefer an alternative that produces unreliable reinforcement. The authors describe the variables that influence preference for unreliable reinforcement, including the signaling and the duration of the reinforcement schedules, the context in which the signaling stimuli occur, and the effects of conditioned reinforcement. Hypothetical applied examples that address these variables are provided, and their influence on preference for unreliable reinforcement in humans is discussed. We conclude by suggesting a line of applied research to examine the relationship between these variables and a preference for unreliable reinforcement.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The effects of functional communication training, extinction, and response chaining on 3 subjects' escape-maintained aberrant behavior were evaluated using a multielement design. Functional communication training consisted of teaching subjects a verbal response that was functionally equivalent to their aberrant behavior. Subjects initially were allowed to escape from a task contingent on the trained verbal response. In subsequent treatment phases, escape was contingent on the trained verbal response plus the completion of the specified number of steps in the task (response chaining). The number of steps was increased until a subject completed the task to obtain a break. Results showed that the treatment reduced rates of aberrant behavior and that the chaining procedure was effective in decreasing the availability of escape.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report the effects of extinction and positive reinforcement on the number of untrained topographies emitted by children with toys. Baseline showed no appropriate toy play. Participants were then trained individually on one topography for each toy. Previously reinforced topographies of toy play were placed on extinction, resulting in the induction of untrained topographies.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We conducted two field studies using a behavioral consultation approach to reduce children's problem behaviors in public school settings. The first study consisted of a descriptive analysis in which the students and their teachers were observed during naturally occurring classroom activities. The results of the descriptive analysis provided hypotheses regarding the operant function of the students' problem behaviors. The hypotheses were tested in the second experiment directly through a modified experimental analysis and indirectly through an evaluation of the treatment effects. The interventions were designed to disrupt the inappropriate response-reinforcer relation by discontinuing contingent reinforcement (i.e., extinction), providing the reinforcer contingent on appropriate play behaviors, and teaching the students verbal skills functionally equivalent to the inappropriate response. The classroom teachers were trained to implement the interventions and conduct the experimental analyses during classroom activities in which the problem behaviors occurred most frequently. The interventions were effective in decreasing the students' problem behaviors while concurrently increasing their appropriate verbal skills.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The effectiveness and efficiency (training trials and training errors through criterion) of stimulus fading, stimulus shaping, time delay, and a feedback only procedure were compared in teaching three adults with moderate developmental delays sight words encountered in activities of daily living. In Experiment 1, the four procedures were assessed during training in a controlled environment to identify the most effective and efficient procedure for each participant. All three adults acquired the target words, and the four procedures were found to be of comparable efficiency in total training sessions, whereas individual differences were found in training errors to criterion. In Experiment 2, the feedback only procedure was used to teach the three participants sight words in community settings. Participants learned new words in the community settings and used the previously trained words in daily living activities. The benefit of conducting a preliminary evaluation of instructional procedures during controlled training is discussed.
Research in Developmental Disabilities 01/1993; 14(2):107-27. · 3.40 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Three classes of events were scored from videotapes of 14 college basketball games during the 1989 National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament: reinforcers (such as points and favorable turnovers), adversities (such as missed shots, unfavorable turnovers, and fouls), and responses to adversities (favorable or unfavorable outcomes of the first possession of the ball following an adversity). Within-game and within-team analyses of these data supported three findings. First, a team's favorable response to an adversity generally increased as the rate of reinforcement increased 3 min preceding the adversity. Second, basketball coaches called time-out from play when being outscored by their opponents an average of 2.63 to 1.0. Third, calling time-outs from play appeared to be an effective intervention for reducing an opponent's rate of reinforcement. Rates of reinforcement during the 3 min immediately after a time-out were nearly equal for both teams. Results are discussed within a behavioral momentum framework.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This review of 20 years of literature on sight word instruction for individuals with handicaps identifies several effective procedures. These procedures are described for the two types of learning required in sight word instruction--word recognition and comprehension. Criteria for procedural selection are recommended. Research limitations are critiqued with suggestions provided for further evaluation of sight word instruction.
Research in Developmental Disabilities 02/1991; 12(3):203-28. · 3.40 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study was a replication and extension of research by Foxx, McMorrow, Bittle, and Ness (1986) that assessed generalization effects of a social skills training program on the interactional behavior of adults with developmental disabilities. Target skills were a verbal action or reaction in six skill areas that specifically addressed the participants' skill deficits. In the present study, we trained 5 adult residents of a group home across these six skill areas using the "Sorry" game format and the scoring criteria described by Foxx et al. We extended the results of Foxx et al. by (a) using pretreatment assessment procedures to identify participants' specific skill deficits, (b) training all residents in the natural environment, (c) training participant-participant interactions, (d) training participants to respond to four of the six skill areas through the use of a role-play procedure, and (e) omitting rewards, criterion levels, and self-monitoring. Additionally, the trainer in the present study modeled correct responses only as an error correction procedure during training. Similar to those of Foxx et al., our results indicated that all participants increased their use of the trained interactional behaviors during the generalization assessments in the presence of other trained peers.