Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis
Deposit contracting may reduce costs and increase efficacy in contingency management interventions. We evaluated two Internet-based deposit contract arrangements for smoking. In Experiment 1, nine participants deposited self-selected amounts that could be earned back for meeting goals. During treatment, participants were reimbursed for breath samples with less than or equal to 6 parts per million carbon monoxide and met the criterion for 47% of samples compared to 1% during baseline. In Experiment 2, 10 participants’ deposits were matched up to $50. No samples met the criterion during baseline but 41.5% met it during treatment. The average deposit was $82 in Experiment 1 and $49 in Experiment 2. Participants rated the intervention favorably and sample submission rates were high. These experiments suggest that Internet-based self-tailored deposits are acceptable, feasible, and can promote brief reduction and abstinence in some smokers. Future research should investigate individual and intervention factors that affect long-term cessation and uptake of deposit contracts.
Instructive feedback embedded within group instruction for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder
The present study evaluated the effects of instructive feedback embedded within a group discrete trial teaching to teach tact relations to nine children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder using a nonconcurrent multiple-baseline design. Dependent variables included correct responses for: primary targets (directly taught), secondary targets (taught via instructive feedback), primary observational targets (directly taught to other members of the group), and secondary observational targets (taught via instructive feedback provided to other members of the group). Results showed that all nine participants reached the mastery criterion for the primary targets, as well as acquired the secondary and observational targets without direct teaching. Clinical implications and areas for future research are provided.
Achieving continence of one's bowel movements is a key step in development and failure to do so leads to many negative consequences. Treatments for encopresis appearing in the literature have employed behavioral strategies; medications such as suppositories, laxatives, or enemas; and in some studies a combination of these approaches. To date, attempts to extend successful treatments for encopresis in typically developing children to those with developmental disabilities have been limited. The current study included three participants diagnosed with developmental disabilities who had a history of encopresis. None of the participants had a continent bowel movement under baseline conditions. Continent bowel movements increased during treatment that included the addition of suppositories to elicit continent bowel movements. Two participants began having independent continent bowel movements (i.e., without requiring suppositories) and medication was successfully faded out for the remaining participant. Treatment took between 13 and 21 days.
The high-probability (high-p) instructional sequence consists of the delivery of a series of high-probability instructions immediately before delivery of a low-probability or target instruction. It is commonly used to increase compliance in a variety of populations. Recent research has described variations of the high-p instructional sequence and examined the conditions under which the sequence is most effective. This manuscript reviews the most recent research on the sequence and identifies directions for future research. Recommendations for practitioners regarding the use of the high-p instructional sequence are also provided.
Frequent emesis can cause substantial deleterious effects to a child's health and environment. We conducted a functional analysis of a 3-year-old girl's self-induced emesis and confirmed that emesis was maintained by automatic reinforcement. In a reversal design, we evaluated the efficacy of implementing response blocking at 100% and 50% treatment integrity levels on both attempts and successful production of emesis. One hundred percent blocking, but not 50% blocking, was successful in reducing attempts and emesis below baseline levels.
Noncontingent reinforcement for the treatment of severe problem behavior: An analysis of 27 consecutive applications
Noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) is a commonly used treatment for severe problem behavior displayed by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The current study sought to extend the literature by reporting outcomes achieved with 27 consecutive applications of NCR as the primary treatment for severe problem behavior. All applications of NCR were included regardless of treatment outcome to minimize selection bias favoring successful cases. Participants ranged in age from 5 to 33 years. We analyzed the results across behavioral function and with regard to the use of functional versus alternative reinforcers. NCR effectively treated problem behavior maintained by social reinforcement in 14 of 15 applications, using either the functional reinforcer or alternative reinforcers. When we implemented NCR to treat problem behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement, we often had to add other treatment components to produce clinically significant effects (five of nine applications). Results provide information on the effectiveness and limitations of NCR as treatment for severe problem behavior.
Teaching complex verbal operants to children with autism and establishing generalization using the peak curriculum
The present study evaluated the feasibility of the PEAK Relational Training System's Generalization Module (Dixon, 2014b) to teach and establish generalization of autoclitic mands, distorted tacts, and creative path finding in three children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Using a multiple-baseline design across behaviors, each participant was provided with differential reinforcement and a least-to-most prompting hierarchy for correct responses to a subset of stimuli, and responses to other similar stimulus sets were probed for emergent generalization. Following training, each participant successfully acquired the directly trained behaviors and demonstrated generalization to the nonreinforced test exemplars. These data support the utility of Skinner's (1957) analysis to teach complex forms of verbal operants, and suggest that a manualized curriculum such as PEAK may have utility for promoting skill development and generalization for front line staff and caregivers of children with autism.
A microswitch-based program for promoting initial ambulation responses: An evaluation with two girls with multiple disabilities
We assessed the use of a microswitch-based program for promoting ambulation responses by two children with multiple disabilities. The goals of the study were to: (a) evaluate the importance of the contingency between the target behavior (forward step) and the programmed consequence (preferred stimuli), (b) measure effects of the intervention on indices of happiness, and (c) assess the social validation of the procedure using 20 physiotherapists as external raters. The intervention involved the automatic delivery of preferred stimuli contingent on forward steps. Results showed that both participants improved their performance (forward steps and indices of happiness) during contingent reinforcement phases compared to baseline and noncontingent reinforcement phases. Moreover, physiotherapists rated the intervention as socially valid.
Differential reinforcement procedures may promote unprompted correct responding, resulting in a quicker transfer of stimulus control than nondifferential reinforcement. Recent studies that have compared reinforcement arrangements have found that the most effective arrangement may differ across participants. The current study conducted an assessment of differential reinforcement arrangements (i.e., quality, schedule, and magnitude) and nondifferential reinforcement to identify the most effective arrangement for each participant. The assessment phase showed that the quality arrangement was the most efficient for all participants during auditory-visual matching. Next, a validation phase was conducted to evaluate whether the assessment would predict the most effective arrangement across multiple skills. The results from the assessment phase were validated for all participants for the same skill. However, the results were only validated for one participant during the other skills (i.e., tact and intraverbal). The results are discussed in light of previous research and future areas of research.
Evaluation of a telehealth training package to remotely train staff to conduct a preference assessment
Recent advancements in telecommunication technologies make it possible to conduct a variety of healthcare services remotely (e.g., behavioral-analytic intervention services), thereby bridging the gap between qualified providers and consumers in isolated locations. In this study, web-based telehealth technologies were used to remotely train direct-care staff to conduct a multiple-stimulus-without-replacement preference assessment. The training package included three components: (a) a multimedia presentation; (b) descriptive feedback from previously recorded baseline sessions; and (c) scripted role-play with immediate feedback. A nonconcurrent, multiple-baseline-across-participants design was used to demonstrate experimental control. Training resulted in robust and immediate improvements, and these effects maintained during 1- to 2-month follow-up observations. In addition, participants expressed high satisfaction with the web-based materials and the overall remote-training experience.
Responding to stimuli as same and different can be considered a critical component of a variety of language and academic repertoires. Whereas responding to “sameness” and generalized identity matching (i.e., coordination) have been studied extensively, there appears to be a significant gap in behavior analytic research and educational programs with regard to nonmatching relations or relations of difference. We review research on difference relations from a variety of domains, including comparative psychology, as well as experimental, and translational behavior analysis. We examine a range of studies, including research on the perception of difference and oddity responding, as well as investigations on establishing relational frames of distinction. We present suggestions for future research and describe potential methods for teaching skills related to relations of difference.
During situations in which a gunman is present on a school campus, lockdowns are initiated until the threat is removed. However, there are no data demonstrating an effective teaching strategy to increase students’ correct responding during a lockdown. We evaluated the effectiveness of behavioral skills training (BST) to teach three groups of kindergarten students how to respond during lockdown drills. Results showed that participant groups displayed increases in correct steps and decreases in noise levels after BST was implemented; these effects maintained following training.
Further analysis of subtypes of automatically reinforced SIB: A replication and quantitative analysis of published datasets
Hagopian, Rooker, and Zarcone (2015) evaluated a model for subtyping automatically reinforced self-injurious behavior (SIB) based on its sensitivity to changes in functional analysis conditions and the presence of self-restraint. The current study tested the generality of the model by applying it to all datasets of automatically reinforced SIB published from 1982 to 2015. We identified 49 datasets that included sufficient data to permit subtyping. Similar to the original study, Subtype-1 SIB was generally amenable to treatment using reinforcement alone, whereas Subtype-2 SIB was not. Conclusions could not be drawn about Subtype-3 SIB due to the small number of datasets. Nevertheless, the findings support the generality of the model and suggest that sensitivity of SIB to disruption by alternative reinforcement is an important dimension of automatically reinforced SIB. Findings also suggest that automatically reinforced SIB should no longer be considered a single category and that additional research is needed to better understand and treat Subtype-2 SIB.
Twenty-three university students completed a simulated slot machine task involving the concurrent presentation of two slot machines that were varied both in win density and the inclusion of a bonus round feature to evaluate the effect of embedded bonus rounds on participant response allocation. The results suggest that participants allocated a greater percentage of responses to machines with embedded bonus rounds across both dense (Bonus: M = 68.4, SD = 19.2; No Bonus: M = 51.2; 9.6) and lean (Bonus: M = 48.8, SD = 9.6; No Bonus: M = 31.6, SD = 19.2) reinforcement schedules, in which the overall reinforcement rate across all machines was held constant.
Overselective stimulus control refers to discriminative control in which the number of controlling stimuli is too limited for effective behavior. Experiment 1 included 22 special-education students who exhibited overselective stimulus control on a two-sample delayed matching task. An intervention added a compound identity matching opportunity within the sample observation period of the matching trials. The compound matching functioned as a differential observing response (DOR) in that high accuracy verified observation and discrimination of both sample stimuli. Nineteen participants learned to perform the DOR and two-sample delayed matching accuracy increased substantially for 16 of them. When the DOR was completely withdrawn after 10 sessions, accuracy declined. In Experiment 2, a more gradual withdrawal of DOR requirements showed that highly accurate performance could be maintained with the DOR on only a proportion of trials for most participants. The results show that DOR training may lead to a general improvement in observing behavior.