Effects of Immediate Tests on the Long-Term Maintenance of Stimulus Equivalence Classes

Abstract

It has been suggested that stimulus equivalence is a central component of language and symbolic behavior. When teaching symbolic behavior, the goal is often to achieve a more or less permanent alteration of an individual’s behavioral repertoire. As such, it seems important to assess not only variables affecting the establishment of stimulus equivalence but also variables affecting continued stimulus control exerted by stimulus equivalence class members over time. The current study investigated the role of the test for stimulus equivalence on the long-term maintenance of stimulus equivalence classes. Using one-to-many conditional discrimination training, 24 adult participants were taught to respond in line with three five-member stimulus classes. One group of 12 participants immediately completed a test for stimulus equivalence, and 12 other participants did not receive such a test. All 24 participants were subsequently tested for trained and derived relations under extinction conditions 2 and 4 weeks later without any further exposure to the contingencies of the conditional discrimination training. Results showed no differences between the two groups, with four participants in each group responding in accordance with both trained conditional discriminations and stimulus equivalence in the 4-week test. Six additional participants did, however, display systematic conditional performance during retention tests only partly consistent with the experimenter-defined classes.


Mon, 26 Jun 2017, 5:00 pm


A Behavioral and Biological Analysis of Aesthetics: Implications for Research and Applications

Abstract

Seeking to identify the common and distinguishing attributes of effects one might call “aesthetic,” I examined hundreds of examples in music, visual arts, poetry, literature, humor, performance arts, architecture, science, mathematics, games, and other disciplines. I observed that all involve quasi-emotional reactions to stimuli that are composites of multiple elements that ordinarily do not occur together and whose interaction, when appropriately potentiated, is transformative—different in kind from the effects of the separate constituent elements. Such effects, termed synergetic, can evoke surprise-tinged emotional responses. Aesthetic reactions, unlike many other kinds of emotional reactions, are never evoked by biologically urgent action-demanding events, such as threats or opportunities. The examined effects were created by various concept manipulation devices: class expansion, identification of new relations, repetition, symmetry, parsimony, and emotional displays for the audience to mirror (I identified a total of 16 such devices). The effects would occur only for individuals with the necessary priming, in circumstances that include effective potentiating factors. Synergetic stimuli that evoke aesthetic responses tend to be reinforcing, via mechanisms related to their biological utility during our evolution. I offer a theory as to how aesthetics may have evolved from its primordial pre-aesthetic roots, with examples of how consideration of those roots often explains aesthetic and related effects. The article suggests that aesthetic phenomena are a special case of a more pervasive aspect of behavior and proposes research approaches involving laboratory models and fMRI technology.


Sun, 18 Jun 2017, 5:00 pm


Response Biases on the IRAP for Adults and Adolescents with Respect to Smokers and Nonsmokers: The Impact of Parental Smoking Status

Abstract

The current research aimed to examine the implicit biases of smokers and nonsmokers to others who did or did not smoke. Study 1 presented adult smokers and nonsmokers with an Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) that assessed bias toward or against smokers and nonsmokers. Study 2 replicated this with adolescent smokers and nonsmokers. Both studies also presented self-report measures. Both adult and adolescent smokers produced IRAP effects that indicated prosmoker biases; nonsmokers’ biases were relatively neutral. Trends in the data from Studies 1 and 2 led to a post hoc analysis of the nonsmoker data to investigate the potential impact of parental smoking status on nonsmokers’ biases. Both the IRAP and self-report measures data suggested that parental smoking status increased positivity in attitudes toward smokers among nonsmokers. Hierarchical logistic regression analyses indicated that the IRAP data in Study 1, but not Study 2, predicted smoking status above and beyond the self-report measures. The post hoc analyses showed a similar trend. The consistency of the findings with the only existing IRAP study of attitudes toward smokers, as well as with the broader literature, supports the view that response biases toward smokers may not change fundamentally from adolescence to adulthood, and that parental smoking status may having a moderating influence on these biases.


Thu, 8 Jun 2017, 5:00 pm


An Experimental Analysis of Defusion Interactions Based on Deictic and Hierarchical Framings and Their Impact on Cognitive Performance

Abstract

The aim of the current study was to analyze the effect of different types of framing one’s own behavior, as in defusion interactions, on performance in several experimental tasks. For this purpose, in Phase 1 (or pretest), 34 participants performed two experimental tasks that induced discomfort. In Phase 2, participants were randomly assigned to one of the three experimental protocols: the Defusion I protocol was basically made up of deictic framing interactions— I/You, Here/There, Now/Then—to promote flexibility in perspective taking of the psychological content; the Defusion II protocol incorporated not only deictic framing but also hierarchical framing to promote a perspective where the psychological content is experienced in a hierarchical relation with the deictic “'I” and several cues to specify the regulatory or augmental function; and the Control protocol did not include any active protocol component. Finally, in Phase 3 (or posttest), participants repeated the two experimental tasks. Results indicate that all participants’ performance increased after the intervention. However, the superiority of Defusion II condition was shown. Conclusions of the current study are focused on the type of framing involved in the so-called defusion interactions that ensure its efficacy, supported by the improvement of performance observed.


Sun, 4 Jun 2017, 5:00 pm


Monitoring Cocaine Use and Abstinence Among Cocaine Users for Contingency Management Interventions

Abstract

During contingency management interventions, reinforcement of cocaine abstinence is arranged by delivering an incentive when a urine sample tests cocaine-negative. The use of qualitative versus quantitative urinalysis testing may have important implications for effects on cocaine abstinence. Qualitative testing (i.e., testing that solely identifies whether a particular substance is present or absent) may not detect short-term cocaine abstinence because a single instance of cocaine use can result in cocaine-positive urine over many days. Quantitative testing (i.e., testing that identifies how much of a substance is present) may be more sensitive to short-term cocaine abstinence; however, the selection of a criterion for distinguishing new use versus carryover from previous use is an important consideration. The present study examined benzoylecgonine concentrations, the primary metabolite of cocaine, in urine samples collected three times per week for 30 weeks from 28 cocaine users who were exposed to a cocaine abstinence contingency. Of the positive urine samples (benzoylecgonine concentration >300 ng/ml), 29%, 21%, 14%, and 5% of the samples decreased in benzoylecgonine concentration by more than 20%, 40%, 60%, and 80% per day, respectively. As the size of the decrease increased, the likelihood of that sample occurring during a period leading to a cocaine-negative urine sample (benzoylecgonine concentration ≤300 ng/ml) also increased. The number of days required to produce a cocaine-negative sample following a positive sample ranged from 1 to 10 days and was significantly correlated with the starting benzoylecgonine level (r = 0.43, p

Wed, 31 May 2017, 5:00 pm


One of Us

Wed, 31 May 2017, 5:00 pm


The Use of Health Coaching to Improve Health Outcomes: Implications for Applied Behavior Analysis

Abstract

Chronic health conditions are predominant in the USA. Health coaching has demonstrated significant results in increasing health-promotion behaviors that impact the development or progression of chronic health conditions (Simmons & Wolever, 2011). Behavior analysis has also contributed to this body of research with effective behavior-change procedures (Allen & Hine, 2015). While often not cited, the methodology used in health coaching utilizes many principles that align with applied behavior analysis. The current paper serves several purposes: (1) introduces health coaching and the potential for application within a behavior analytic framework, (2) discusses commonalities and areas behavior analysis could impact, (3) suggests implications for future research and practice, and finally, (4) urges collaboration between behavior analysts, health coaches, physicians and other professionals practicing within fields that focus on improving individual health and healthcare.


Wed, 31 May 2017, 5:00 pm


Differences in Delay, but not Probability Discounting, in Current Smokers, E-cigarette Users, and Never Smokers

Abstract

Steeper delay discounting in substance abuse populations, compared to non-abusing populations, has been well-established in prior studies. Despite the growing interest in e-cigarettes as a novel and relatively understudied form of nicotine consumption, relatively little is known as to how e-cigarette users discount rewards compared to traditional cigarette smokers and never smokers. In the present study, we measured delay and probability discounting rates, as well as perceived risk inherent to a delayed reward, in current traditional cigarette smokers, e-cigarette users, and never smokers. We found that traditional cigarette smokers and e-cigarette users discounted delayed rewards at a similar rate—and both were steeper than never smokers. However, no differences were observed in probability discounting or in perceived risk inherent in reward delay.


Wed, 31 May 2017, 5:00 pm



The Opportunity to Choose the Activity Context Does Not Increase Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity Exhibited by Preschool Children

Abstract

Physical activity is essential for children and adults to counteract the negative health outcomes related to a sedentary lifestyle. Despite widely publicized recommendations and information about physical activity, the problem of excessive physical inactivity prevails in our society. The purpose of this study was to conduct a context functional analysis to identify outdoor activity contexts that engendered higher levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) using an ABAB reversal design to determine if the opportunity to choose the activity context would influence MVPA exhibited by six preschool-aged children. Results of the context functional analysis showed that fixed equipment and open space engendered highest levels of MVPA in most participants. Levels of MVPA in the reversal design indicated that choice did not significantly influence levels of MVPA and that active and sedentary choices varied between and within participants. These results suggest that related to levels of MVPA the type of outdoor activity context chosen is more important than the individual who chooses it.


Wed, 31 May 2017, 5:00 pm


Cross-Commodity Delay Discounting of Alcohol and Money in Alcohol Users

Abstract

Despite real-world implications, the pattern of delay discounting in alcohol users when the commodities now and later differ has not been well-characterized. In this study, 60 participants on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk completed the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) to assess severity of use and completed four delay discounting tasks between hypothetical, equivalent amounts of alcohol and money available at five delays. The tasks included two cross-commodity (alcohol now-money later and money now-alcohol later) and two same-commodity (money now-money later and alcohol now-alcohol later) conditions. Delay discounting was significantly associated with clinical cutoffs of the AUDIT for both of the cross-commodity conditions but not for either of the same-commodity delay discounting tasks. The cross-commodity discounting conditions were related to severity of use wherein heavy users discounted future alcohol less and future money more. The change in direction of the discounting effect was dependent on the commodity that was distally available suggesting a distinctive pattern of discounting across commodities when comparing light and heavy alcohol users.


Wed, 31 May 2017, 5:00 pm


Saliva Cotinine as a Measure of Smoking Abstinence in Contingency Management – A Feasibility Study

Abstract

The present study investigated the feasibility of using twice-weekly monitoring of saliva cotinine in a prize-based contingency-management program for smoking cessation. Saliva samples were tested using semi-quantitative NicAlert™ cotinine test strips. Smokers (N = 20) who reported smoking at least five cigarettes per day were randomly assigned to either a contingent or a non-contingent reinforcement group. A five-day baseline phase was followed by a four-day shaping phase during which participants were asked to gradually decrease smoking. During the subsequent three-week abstinence phase, participants submitted breath CO and saliva samples twice per week. For those in the contingent reinforcement group, prize draws could be earned for negative samples or, on the first day of the abstinence phase and after a relapse, for saliva samples one semi-quantitative level below the previous sample. On each visit participants in both groups were given feedback on their saliva cotinine and breath CO levels, and were given instructions for how much to reduce smoking in order to meet the next smoking criteria. Saliva cotinine measures significantly correlated with breath CO measures and aligned with self-reports of smoking. Attendance in both groups decreased after the shaping phase. Cotinine and CO levels decreased in participants, but there were no significant group differences. Although the present study failed to demonstrate a treatment effect for the prize contingency (possibly due to the relatively low net payment), it appeared that using NicAlert™ saliva cotinine test strips was a relatively easy and effective way to monitor smoking throughout a contingency-management program.


Wed, 31 May 2017, 5:00 pm


Probability Discounting and Cardiovascular Risk: The Effect of Side-Effect Severity and Framing

Abstract

An expectation of healthcare delivery is that patients can make informed decisions about whether and how to treat chronic health conditions. Decisions are complex because treatment is not always 100% effective and side effects can occur without a beneficial outcome. It is important, therefore, to understand the drivers of individual choices about whether to accept a treatment, particularly, how people respond to the probabilities of being well or unwell with or without the treatment. The current project investigated this using a probability discounting framework. Participants indicated whether they would take a drug that reduced their chance of having a heart attack or a stroke from a baseline probability that varied across trials. We told participants that they would always experience a side effect and manipulated its severity (i.e. either frequent headaches or persistent cold hands and feet). We also manipulated whether probabilities were framed negatively—in terms of heart attack or stroke—or positively—in terms of continued good heart health. We observed systematic discounting as a function of probability of heart attack or stroke without treatment. Discounting was shallower when the side effect was less severe. There was no significant effect of framing at the group level. Overall, probability discounting offers a useful approach to investigating the drivers of decisions about whether to accept medical treatment.


Wed, 31 May 2017, 5:00 pm


Diet and Exercise Failures: A Theoretical Extension of Relapse

Abstract

Obesity is a non-communicable disease that is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, and cancer (WHO, 2016). While there are many ways to treat obesity, approximately 80% of those who attempt a diet or exercise program fail to achieve and/or maintain their weight loss (Wing & Phelan, 2005). This article assesses the problem of obesity and the failure to maintain treatment outcomes through a conceptual analysis of relapse. This includes analyzing not only the behaviors of individuals who are obese, but their surrounding environments. This article includes a discussion of resurgence, renewal, reinstatement, and behavioral momentum theory, which may provide additional information and guidance when creating treatment plans related to obesity and obesity-related disorders. Assessing obesity through a behavior analytic lens of relapse may lead to better adherence and maintenance of obesity treatment programs, but also decrease the burden that obesity and obesity relapse has on the health-care system.


Wed, 31 May 2017, 5:00 pm


Behavioral Economic Predictors of Alcohol and Sexual Risk Behavior in College Drinkers

Abstract

Heavy alcohol use among college students is a major public health concern. Alcohol use commonly occurs with sexual risk behaviors, but etiology remains unclear. Behavioral economics has yielded insights into decision-making processes underlying problematic health choices, including alcohol use and sexual risk behavior. In particular, the reinforcer pathologies framework has integrated behavioral economic demand and delay discounting to improve our understanding of addiction, but has yet to be extended to the study of sexual risk. In order to account for past sexual risk behavior and alcohol consumption, the current study examined college students’ demand for alcohol, money delay discounting, alcohol delay discounting, and sexual partners delay and probability discounting. Results revealed that behavioral economic variables (i.e., demand intensity, sexual partners delay discounting, alcohol delay discounting, and money delay discounting) were significant predictors of sexual risk and alcohol consumption levels. Additionally, consistent with the reinforcer pathologies model, an inability to delay sexual gratification (sexual delay discounting) and overvaluation of alcohol (demand intensity) interacted to account for significant variance in alcohol consumption and sexual risk. These findings highlight the importance of considering both sexual and alcohol decision making in research and intervention with college students.


Wed, 31 May 2017, 5:00 pm


An Initial Investigation of the Effects of Tanning-Related Cues on Demand and Craving for Indoor Tanning

Abstract

Melanoma and other skin cancers have become the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States. Despite the well-established link between skin cancer and indoor tanning, approximately 30 million Americans report engaging in indoor tanning each year, and the majority of these users are white females aged 16 to 29 years. Although some studies have suggested that exposure to ultraviolet radiation may produce reinforcing effects in frequent tanners paralleling the characteristic features of substance use disorders, no previous study has explored the impact of tanning-related cues on demand for tanning. The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of tanning-related cues on participants’ behavioral economic demand and craving for indoor tanning. Participants were 23 undergraduate students (22 females, one male), each of whom underwent a cue-exposure procedure consisting of experiencing neutral- and tanning-related cues. Results suggest that participants exhibited an increase in behavioral economic demand and self-reported craving in the condition associated with tanning-related cues relative to neutral-cues. We conclude by discussing notable limitations and offering directions for future research.


Wed, 31 May 2017, 5:00 pm


Earning, Spending, and Drug Use in a Therapeutic Workplace

Abstract

Drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing health problem that is associated with the degree to which individuals choose small, immediate monetary outcomes over larger, delayed outcomes. This study was a secondary analysis exploring the relation between financial choices and drug use in opioid-dependent adults in a therapeutic workplace intervention. Sixty-seven participants were randomly assigned to a condition in which access to paid job training was contingent upon naltrexone adherence (N = 35) or independent of naltrexone adherence (N = 32). Participants could earn approximately $10 per hour for 4 hours every weekday and could exchange earnings for gift cards or bill payments each weekday. Urine was collected and tested for opiates and cocaine thrice weekly. Participants’ earning, spending, and drug use were not related to measures of delay discounting obtained prior to the intervention. When financial choices were categorized based on drug use during the intervention, however, those with less frequent drug use or frequent use of one drug spent a smaller proportion of their daily earnings and maintained a higher daily balance than those who frequently tested positive for both drugs (i.e., opiates and cocaine). Several patterns described the relation between cumulative earning and spending including no saving, periods of saving, and sustained saving. One destructive effect of drug use may be that it creates a perpetual zero-balance situation in the lives of users, which in turn prevents them from gaining materials that could help to break the cycle of addiction.


Wed, 31 May 2017, 5:00 pm


A Longitudinal Behavioral Economic Analysis of Non-medical Prescription Opioid Use Among College Students

Abstract

Despite the growing opioid epidemic in the US, few studies have identified theoretically based risk factors for non-medical prescription opioid (NMPO) use among young adults. The goal of the current study was to evaluate the behavioral economic hypotheses that NMPO use would be associated with lower levels of reinforcement from substance-free activities and future time orientation. Participants were 71 undergraduate students (62% women, 52.1% Caucasian, 35.2% African American) who either reported past-year NMPO use or demographically similar control participants with no past-year drug use. Participants provided information on alcohol and drug use, completed three measures of substance-free reinforcement (time allocation to exercise and academic activities, hedonic response to substance-free pleasant images, and self-report anhedonia), and a measure of future orientation, at baseline, 6-month, and 12-month follow-up. Consistent with nationwide trends, most NMPO users also reported use of marijuana (94%) and alcohol (80%). Compared to no drug use, NMPO use was associated with lower time allocation to academic activities, lower hedonic response to pleasant images, greater self-reported anhedonia, and lower future orientation across the 12-month study period. Among NMPO users, greater positive hedonic response to substance-free pleasant images predicted less alcohol use at 12-month follow-up, and greater baseline future orientation predicted less marijuana and NMPO use at 12-month follow-up. These findings provide partial support for behavioral economic models that link substance misuse to diminished levels of substance-free reinforcement and lower consideration of the future.


Wed, 31 May 2017, 5:00 pm


Smokers’ Elevated Rates of Delay Discounting are Independent of Differences in Primary Personality Dimensions

Abstract

Although smokers have higher rates of delay discounting, the extent to which this depends on smoking habit and nicotine use is unclear. Because personality factors are correlated with both delay discounting and smoking, we assessed the extent to which the effect size for smoking and delay discounting was attenuated by using the primary dimensions of personality in Eysenck’s system – extraversion, neuroticism, and psychoticism – as covariates. Smokers (n = 367) and non-smokers (n = 421) completed the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-Revised (EPQ-R) and the Monetary Choice Questionnaire (MCQ) to measure delay discounting. Smokers had higher rates of delay discounting (d = .315). Although extraversion and psychoticism scores were higher for smokers than non-smokers, and were positively correlated with delay discounting, the effect size for smokers decreased only marginally when personality variables were used as covariates (d = .295). A stepwise regression analysis identified 7 EPQ-R items that best predicted delay discounting (R = .281); controlling for a subscale based on these items only reduced the effect size to d = .252, and among the smokers, nicotine dependence remained a significant predictor of delay discounting. Overall results indicate that smokers’ elevated delay discounting is independent of primary personality dimensions, and although correlational, are most consistent with the view that smoking habit and nicotine dependence are causally linked to changes in impulsive decision making.


Wed, 31 May 2017, 5:00 pm