[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Five individuals with autism or other developmental disabilities participated in paired-stimulus preference assessments during repeated baseline probes. All subjects initially showed a pronounced bias by typically selecting the stimulus placed in either the left or right position. Biased responding for 3 subjects was eliminated when training trials were conducted in which a stimulus of known lesser quality was presented as one of the choices. Reinforcer-quality training was unsuccessful for 2 subjects, as was a condition in which reinforcer magnitude was modified to favor unbiased responding. These subjects' biased responding was eliminated only when a correction procedure (repetition of error trials) was implemented.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study evaluated how children who exhibited functionally equivalent problem and appropriate behavior allocate responding to experimentally arranged reinforcer rates. Relative reinforcer rates were arranged on concurrent variable-interval schedules and effects on relative response rates were interpreted using the generalized matching equation. Results showed that relative rates of responding approximated relative rates of reinforcement. Finally, interventions for problem behavior were evaluated and differential reinforcement of alternative behavior and extinction procedures were implemented to increase appropriate behavior and decrease problem behavior. Practical considerations for the application of the generalized matching equation specific to severe problem behavior are discussed, including difficulties associated with defining a reinforced response, and obtaining steady state responding in clinical settings.
Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior 05/2010; 93(3):455-69. · 1.07 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We describe a procedure for differentiating among potential precursor responses for use in a functional analysis. Conditional probability analysis of descriptive assessment data identified three potential precursors. Results from the indirect assessment corresponded with those obtained from the descriptive assessment. The top-ranked response identified as a precursor according to the indirect assessment had the strongest relation according to the probability analysis. When contingencies were arranged for the precursor in a functional analysis, the same function was identified as for target behavior, supporting the utility of indirect and descriptive methods to identify precursor behavior empirically.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Descriptive observations were conducted to record problem behavior displayed by participants and to record antecedents and consequences delivered by caregivers. Next, functional analyses were conducted to identify reinforcers for problem behavior. Then, using data from the descriptive observations, lag-sequential analyses were conducted to examine changes in the probability of environmental events across time in relation to occurrences of problem behavior. The results of the lag-sequential analyses were interpreted in light of the results of functional analyses. Results suggested that events identified as reinforcers in a functional analysis followed behavior in idiosyncratic ways: after a range of delays and frequencies. Thus, it is possible that naturally occurring reinforcement contingencies are arranged in ways different from those typically evaluated in applied research. Further, these complex response-stimulus relations can be represented by lag-sequential analyses. However, limitations to the lag-sequential analysis are evident.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study compared the outcomes of three descriptive analysis methods-the ABC method, the conditional probability method, and the conditional and background probability method-to each other and to the results obtained from functional analyses. Six individuals who had been diagnosed with developmental delays and exhibited problem behavior participated. Functional analyses indicated that participants' problem behavior was maintained by social positive reinforcement (n = 2), social negative reinforcement (n = 2), or automatic reinforcement (n = 2). Results showed that for all but 1 participant, descriptive analysis outcomes were similar across methods. In addition, for all but 1 participant, the descriptive analysis outcome differed substantially from the functional analysis outcome. This supports the general finding that descriptive analysis is a poor means of determining functional relations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Variable reinforcement schedules are used to arrange the availability of reinforcement following varying response ratios or intervals of time. Random reinforcement schedules are subtypes of variable reinforcement schedules that can be used to arrange the availability of reinforcement at a constant probability across number of responses or time. Generating schedule values for variable and random reinforcement schedules can be difficult. The present article describes the steps necessary to write macros in Microsoft Excel that will generate variable-ratio, variable-interval, variable-time, random-ratio, random-interval, and random-time reinforcement schedule values.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Acquisition of verbal behavior is a major goal of interventions for children with developmental disabilities. We evaluated the effectiveness of manipulation of an establishing operation for functional discriminated mands. Four individuals with developmental disabilities participated in a training procedure designed to teach two separate mands for two separate preferred items. Participants were taught to mand using picture cards. Following training, the manipulation of the establishing operation was used to assess and establish discriminated manding. This manipulation involved providing free access to one of the preferred items, such that there should be no motivation to ask for it, while motivation to ask for the other item remained in place. Three of the 4 participants acquired discriminated manding using topographically similar responses (picture cards). One participant did not acquire a discriminated mand until topographically distinct mands were taught (vocal and picture card). Results suggest that discrimination training is not necessarily sufficient to teach discriminated manding when more than one picture card showing preferred items is used. In addition, manipulation of the establishing operation served as an appropriate assessment tool for the verification of discriminated manding as well as a possible training tool to establish discriminated manding.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the current study, momentary time sampling (MTS) and partial-interval recording (PIR) were compared to continuous-duration recording of stereotypy and to the frequency of self-injury during a treatment analysis to determine whether the recording method affected data interpretation. Five previously conducted treatment analysis data sets were analyzed by creating separate graphic displays for each measurement method (duration or frequency, MTS, and PIR). An expert panel interview and structured criterion visual inspection were used to evaluate treatment effects across measurement methods. Results showed that treatment analysis interpretations based on both discontinuous recording methods often matched those based on frequency or duration recording; however, interpretations based on MTS were slightly more likely to match those based on duration and those based on PIR were slightly more likely to match those based on frequency.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The matching law was used to analyze whether the proportion of shots taken from two- or three-point range would match the proportional reinforcement rates produced by those shots when the reinforcement rate of three-point shooting was changed. Rule changes in 1994 and 1997 altered the distance of the three-point line in the National Basketball Association, which created a quasiexperimental reversal design, thereby naturally changing three-point reinforcement rates. The present data partially confirmed predictions made by the matching law, in that increases in the relative rate of three-point shots attempted corresponded to increases in the relative rate of three-point shots made.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prior researchers have evaluated the efficacy of using the matching law to describe naturally occurring behavior-environment interactions. However, spurious matching could be obtained if the response and environmental event were correlated, even if the event did not reinforce the response. To assess the likelihood of obtaining spurious matching when relating attention and problem behavior, we evaluated the problem behavior of 3 participants for whom attention did not serve as a reinforcer for problem behavior in a functional analysis. Both the simple and generalized matching equations were used to examine matching relations extracted from descriptive observations that were conducted in the participants' classrooms. The results of aggregated matching analyses showed that the proportional rate of responding approximately matched the proportional rate of contiguous adult attention. Matching analyses conducted for all participants showed correlations between attention and problem behavior. These results demonstrate that spurious matching can be obtained, and they highlight the role of functional analyses in the analysis of naturally occurring matching relations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We conducted functional analyses and identified reinforcers for problem behavior for three individuals with developmental disabilities. Based on results of the functional analysis, we evaluated the rate, probability, delay, and duration of reinforcement for problem and appropriate behavior during descriptive parent-child observations. Results showed that parameters of reinforcement, including rate, probability, delay, and duration may interact, and that evaluations of a single reinforcement parameter may be insufficient in describing response allocation. Hence, this study represents a movement toward a method for analyzing reinforcer dimensions, other than rate and probability, in a descriptive analysis.
Research in Developmental Disabilities 01/2005; 26(6):577-92. · 3.40 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A common deficiency in the verbal repertoires of individuals with autism and related disorders is the absence of socially appropriate vocal mands. The vocal mand repertoires of these individuals may be lacking in several respects: (a) The individual might engage in no mands whatsoever, (b) the mand might be topographically dissimilar to an appropriate response, (c) the mand might be only partially topographically similar to an appropriate response, and (d) the mand might occur only after prompting. Depending on specific deficiencies in an individual's repertoire, different procedures for establishing appropriate mands may be needed. The purpose of Study 1 was to evaluate an assessment prior to teaching vocal mands for 3 individuals with developmental disabilities. The assessment showed that 1 individual displayed partial utterances of mands, 1 displayed vocal mands after mands had been reinforced, and 1 displayed vocal mands when prompted. Thus, in Study 2, a different teaching strategy was tested for each individual. Results showed that the assessment information could be linked directly to mand training for all 3 participants.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Much of what we do in everyday life can be conceptualized as choice. At any given moment, we could work or watch television. We could go to the store or go to the beach. We could deposit money at the bank or play the lottery. A number of variables can exert control over responding in choice situations (e.g., reinforcement rate, reinforcer quality, reinforcement magnitude, and reinforcement delay). For example, if our favorite television show (i.e., a powerful reinforcer) is on right now, and the deadline for a paper is not for another two weeks, we may be more likely to watch television. If the deadline for the paper was tomorrow, we may be more likely to write than watch television due to the greater magnitude, or qualitatively more potent, reinforcer (e.g., passing a class). If we were paid $1000.00 for every page written, we almost certainly would spend most of our time writing and relatively little time watching T.V. "Choice" situations arise when concurrent schedules of reinforcement are available in an organism's environment. Depositing money into the bank results in an accumulation of interest, and a gradual increase in available money. Buying a lottery ticket results in the loss of a dollar and a very small chance of a drastic increase in available money. Each of these responses (depositing money in the bank, buying a lottery ticket) operates on its own schedule of reinforcement, but there is a choice between those response alternatives. One extremely general phenomenon, which was initially identified in laboratory studies using nonhumans, is the "matching law." The matching law posits that given two concurrently available response alternatives the relative rate of responding equals the relative rate of reinforcement. In other words, suppose there are two response options. Option A provides two times the rate of reinforcement provided by option B, so there will be two times the rate of responding on option A as for option B. For example, consider the possibility that you need to speak to a friend, and there are two telephone numbers (e.g., home and work) available that you might call to reach that friend. If in your experience you are twice as likely to get through to your friend on one telephone number as you are on the other at a given time, you are likely to call one number twice as often as you would the other number. This phenomenon is known as matching (Herrnstein, 1961, 1970).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We applied the matching equation to evaluate the allocation of two- and three-point shots by male and female college basketball players from a large Division 1 university. The matching law predicts that the proportion of shots taken from three-point range should match the proportional reinforcement rate produced by such shots. Thus, we compared the proportion of three-point shots taken relative to all shots to the proportion of three-point shots scored relative to all shots scored. However, the matching equation was adjusted to account for the greater reinforcer magnitude of the three-point basket (i.e., 1.5 times greater than the two-point basket reinforcer magnitude). For players with substantial playing time, results showed that the overall distribution of two- and three-point shots was predicted by the matching equation. Game-by-game shot distribution was variable, but the cumulative proportion of shots taken from three-point range as the season progressed was predicted almost perfectly on a player-by-player basis for both male and female basketball players.