Do Pavlovian Processes Really Mediate Behavioral Momentum? Some Conflicting Issues

Abstract

According to the behavioral momentum theory of response strength (Nevin et al., Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 53, 359–379, 1990), steady-state responding reflects the contingency between a response and a reinforcer (response–reinforcer relationship), whereas behavior’s resistance to change is mediated by a contingency between a stimulus and the reinforcer (stimulus–reinforcer relationship). It is further presumed in this theory that a Pavlovian conditioned stimulus (CS)–unconditioned stimulus (US) contingency overlaps with the discriminative stimulus (SD), signaling a primary reinforcer (SR+) within the 3-term contingency (SD: response [R]–SR+). The mere arranging of a stimulus–reinforcer relation in an operant preparation, however, does not necessarily imply that the resulting behavioral process is Pavlovian. This article questions how important such Pavlovian CS–SR+ relations really are in governing operant behavior and its resistance to change in view of evidence from the operant and Pavlovian literatures showing dissociation between Pavlovian and operant stimulus control. To this end, we highlight studies published in the Pavlovian associative literature (Holman and Mackintosh, The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section B: Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 33, 21–31, 1981; Rescorla, Current Directions in Psychological Science, 1, 66–70, 1992b) as well as at least 1 seldom-cited study published in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (Marcucella, Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 36, 51–60, 1981) supporting the view that CS relations embedded in the 3-term operant contingency can act independently of the discriminative stimulus functions of the SD. These CS relations appear to be neither necessary nor sufficient for sustaining operant discriminative control. Pavlovian relations are likely to be artifacts of operant conditioning—not causal mediators. It is suggested that continued and excessive focus on Pavlovian processes that only have meager influence on operant behavior in general, and behavioral momentum more specifically, will likely be an empirical cul-de-sac for improvement of behavioral management for addiction relapse and other behavioral disorders.


Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 4:00 pm


Effects of Levamisole on Cocaine Self-Administration by Rats

Abstract

Levamisole (LVM) is often added to illicit cocaine, but the reason for this is unclear. Previous research indicated that LVM sometimes increases the rewarding effects of cocaine, as measured by conditioned place preference. The present study examined the acute effects of LVM pretreatments on cocaine self-administration by rats. If LVM substantially increases the amount of cocaine self-administration in each bout, this effect could account for its use as an adulterant. Thirty-two catheterized rats were trained to self-administer cocaine (0.56 mg/kg/injection) and were subsequently tested after pretreatment with LVM (1 and 10 mg/kg) for self-administration of the training dose of cocaine and for self-administration of other doses (0–1.0 mg/kg/injection). Pretreatment with 10 mg/kg of LVM produced a statistically significant reduction in cocaine self-administration. Fewer cocaine-reinforced responses also occurred when 1 mg/kg of LVM was administered compared with control (no LVM) conditions, but the difference was not statistically significant. Because LVM never increased cocaine intake, the present data do not support the hypothesis that LVM is added to illicit cocaine to increase the amount of cocaine self-administered in each bout.


Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 4:00 pm


An Analysis of U-Value as a Measure of Variability

Abstract

The variability in behavior has frequently been assessed using a measure known as the U-value. Of concern in this article were the limits and constraints on U-value as a measure of variability. The relation between the U-value and aspects of variability was examined using three sets of simulated data. Our analysis demonstrates that the U-value as a measure of variability on its own fails to capture repetitive patterns in the sequence of responding. The U-value was shown to reflect the evenness of the distributions of responses across the categories/options used; however, when the number of categories actually used by the participant differed from the total number available, the relation between U-values and the number of categories allocated with responses was shown to be nonlinear. It was also shown that the same value of U can represent different levels of evenness in response distributions over categories, depending on the number of categories/options actually used. These constraints and limitations are discussed in relation to how researchers might report on behavioral variability.


Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 4:00 pm


Combining the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure and the Recording of Event Related Potentials in the Analysis of Racial Bias: a Preliminary Study

Abstract

The current study examined racial bias among White individuals residing in Ireland using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP). In addition, neural activity, measured with electroencephalograms (EEGs), was recorded while participants completed the IRAP. On some blocks of trials, participants were required to respond quickly and accurately in a pro-White and anti-Black manner, whereas on other blocks they were required to respond in the opposite manner (anti-White or pro-Black). The difference in response latencies between these two types of trials provided an index of racial bias, and event-related potentials (ERPs), derived from the EEG signals, provided a simultaneous measure of brain activity during these responses. Results revealed anti-Black and pro-White biased responding on the IRAP in terms of differential response latencies. In addition, greater positivity in the ERP signals located in the frontal sites was recorded when participants responded in a pro-Black or anti-White pattern relative to a pro-White or anti-Black pattern. These results are broadly consistent with those of previous literature in the area and suggest that the IRAP is a potentially useful methodology for research in the field of affective neuroscience.


Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 4:00 pm


Stephenson’s Subjectivity as Naturalistic and Understood from a Scientific Perspective

Abstract

This article is based on the radical idea that subjectivity is open to scientific understanding in the same fundamental manner in which we understand any other aspect of the natural world. Our argument is based on the contributions of William Stephenson, B. F. Skinner, and J. R. Kantor, among others. We begin with the Q methodologist Stephenson, who advocated a monistic approach to behavior and exhibited a commitment to a naturalistic behaviorism. He conceptualized subjectivity as focused on self-reference, an internal standpoint, and consciring (i.e., communicating). In an effort to clarify and extend Stephenson, we then turn to the behavior–analytic, interbehavioral, and Q methodological literatures and to the concepts of the mind as behavior, behavioral probes, derived constructs, and consciousness. Collectively, these concepts contribute to a naturalistic understanding of subjectivity and the rejection of mind as a hidden entity. In closing, we briefly consider the implications of Q methodology for behavior analysis, particularly for the latter’s conceptualization of privacy in terms of private events.


Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 4:00 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, 30 Nov 2017, 4:00 pm


The Role of Contingencies and Stimuli in a Human Laboratory Model of Treatment of Problem Behavior

Abstract

Behavioral momentum theory posits a paradoxical implication for behavioral interventions in clinical situations using differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA): When alternative reinforcers are presented within the same context as the problem behavior, the added reinforcers may decrease the frequency of the behavior but also increase its persistence when the intervention ends. Providing alternative reinforcers in a setting that is distinctively different from that in which the target behavior occurs may avoid or reduce this increase in persistence. The present experiment compared behavioral persistence following standard DRA versus DRA in a different context that was available after refraining from target behavior (differential reinforcement of other behavior; DRO). We arranged a human laboratory model of treatment intervention using computer games and token reinforcement. Participants were five individuals with intellectual disabilities. Experimental phases included (a) an initial multiple-schedule baseline with token reinforcement for target behaviors A and B, (b) an intervention phase with alternative reinforcement using a conventional DRA procedure for A and a DRO-DRA procedure for B, and (c) an extinction phase with no interventions and no tokens. Response rates as proportion of baseline in the initial extinction phase were greater for A than for B for three of five participants. Four participants whose response rates remained relatively high during the extinction phase then received a second extinction-plus-distraction test with leisure items available. Response rates were greater for A than for B in three of four participants. The results indicate that DRO-DRA contingencies may contribute to reduced postintervention persistence of problem behavior.


Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 4:00 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.


Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 4:00 pm


Investigating Relational Framing of Categorization in Young Children

Abstract

The aims of the current study were to measure patterns of relational framing linked with categorization in young, typically developing children and to correlate framing performance with linguistic and cognitive potential as measured by standardized instruments, including the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Fourth Edition (PPVT–4), the Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scales—Fifth Edition (SB5), and the Children’s Category Test (CCT). The relational protocol developed for this study assessed properties of relational framing in 3 relational domains, including nonarbitrary and arbitrary containment relations and arbitrary hierarchical relations. There were 50 participants, 10 from each of the following age ranges: 3–4, 4–5, 5–6, 6–7, and 7–8. The results provided data concerning the acquisition of relational categorization skills across childhood and also showed strong correlations between relational performance and that on each of the 3 standardized measures. The results are discussed in relation to previous research and for their implications in regard to future studies on relational framing and categorization in children.


Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 4:00 pm


Using the Implicit Association Test and Choice to Measure the Within-Trial Contrast Effect in Human Adults

Abstract

When humans and nonhuman animals work hard to achieve a goal, they generally appreciate the results more than when the goal requires little effort to be achieved. The within-trial contrast (WTC) hypothesis explains this phenomenon in terms of the contrast between individuals’ relative hedonic states. We examined the validity of the WTC hypothesis by incorporating an implicit association test (IAT) as a measure of implicit preference in procedures similar to those of Tsukamoto, Kohara, and Takeuchi (Learning & Behavior, 45, 135–146, 2017), who reported emergence of the WTC effect in humans. As a procedural consideration, we also changed the following event to the presentation of a single stimulus instead of a simultaneous discrimination task. We manipulated the effort involved and difficulty of a preceding task by varying the interresponse time (IRT) in differential reinforcement with a low response rate schedule that involved a limited hold. Influences of training were tested in two measures: the choice test and the IAT. Results revealed that in the choice test participants showed significant preference for stimuli that followed the effortful task, which involved a longer IRT even though the effect size was smaller than in the previous study. However, in the IAT, we could not observe the association that the WTC hypothesis presumed. Inconsistency between the choice test and the IAT suggests that preference arising from the WTC paradigm might be caused by a factor other than a change in hedonic state, leaving the question of whether we succeeded in selecting an appropriate measure.


Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 4:00 pm


A Review of Relational Frame Theory Research Into Deictic Relational Responding

Abstract

Relational frame theory (RFT) is a modern behavioral approach to human language and cognition that accounts for complex human behavior, such as perspective taking in terms of derived relational responding. According to RFT, a history of reinforcement for relating deictic relations, such as I–you, here–there, and now–then, may lead to the emergence of a sophisticated repertoire of perspective taking. This theoretical understanding of complex behavior has resulted in the design of interventions to establish these repertoires when deficient. This study analyzes the contributions made to date by the deictic relations approach to perspective taking in typically and atypically developing children and adults. A total of 34 articles published between 2001 and 2015 were selected (26 empirical and 8 nonempirical). The results indicate an expansion of empirical evidence into deictic relations. However, there is still a need for empirical work on its application to atypical development and clinical populations. Future research directions are discussed.


Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 4:00 pm


Implicit and Explicit Attitudes Toward Mainstream and BDSM Sexual Practices and Their Relation to Interviewer Behavior: an Analogue Study

Abstract

The present study examined participants’ implicit and explicit attitudes toward mainstream and BDSM (bondage and discipline/dominance and submission/sadism and masochism) sexual terms using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) and several questionnaires and investigated the relationship between scores on these measures and participant behavior toward a BDSM-labeled and a non-BDSM-labeled confederate during an interviewing task. Twenty-one participants, who were either graduate psychology students or practicing clinicians, completed the study. Results were consistent with previous research (Stockwell, Walker, & Eshleman, The Psychological Record, 60(2), 307–324, 2010) in that responses on both the IRAP and Visual Analogue Scales showed an acceptance of mainstream sexual terms and unfavorable responding to BDSM terms; in contrast, Likert-scale questionnaire responses generally reflected favorable attitudes toward people who practice BDSM. IRAP scores were positively correlated with differences in smiling across the two interview conditions; that is, participants with anti-BDSM responding on the IRAP smiled significantly less while interviewing the BDSM-labeled confederate than when they interviewed the non-BDSM confederate. No other differences in interviewing behavior were observed or correlated with IRAP responding, suggesting that implicit attitudes may not be a reliable predictor of participant behavior during interviews of individuals labeled as practicing BDSM.


Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 4:00 pm


Comparison of Probe Procedures in the Assessment of Chained Tasks

Abstract

This translational study used an adapted alternating treatments design to compare the effects of single-opportunity probe (SOP) procedures, multiple-opportunity probe (MOP) procedures, and a preliminary fixed-opportunity probe (FOP) procedure on the acquisition of chained nonsense tasks for 12 college students. Nonsense tasks were carefully created to ensure equal difficulty across probes as well as to control for participants’ history with tasks. Following exposure to the probe procedures for 6 sessions, ascending trends were evident in the data in MOP conditions, zero-celerating in SOP conditions, and variations in responding in FOP conditions. The data suggest that both MOP and SOP procedures may result in testing threats to internal validity. The authors recommend that experimenters potentially abandon these procedures for alternative choices or use more than 1 procedure to represent the participant’s baseline performance. If MOP procedures are used, it is suggested that a minimum of 5 data collection opportunities occur prior to intervention. If SOP procedures are used, it is recommended that conclusions about the potency of the intervention be interpreted conservatively.


Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 4:00 pm


Cooperation and Metacontingency in Pigeons

Abstract

Three pairs of pigeons were exposed to a procedure that combined features of classic studies on social behavior (cooperation) and recent studies that were inspired by the notion of metacontingency. We examined interactions between simultaneous demands for behavior of individual pigeons and interlocked behaviors of pairs of pigeons. The pigeons worked face to face in an operant conditioning box that was divided by a transparent wall. Each side of the box had two horizontally aligned response keys on the floor. Working individually, each pigeon produced 3-s access to food (individual consequence). In a subsequent phase, if the pigeons coordinated their responses, then they could produce food for an additional 4 s (mutual consequence). Initially, the individual consequence was produced on more than 75% of the trials. The interlocking pattern that was required to produce mutual consequences in the subsequent phase was observed on less than 50% of the trials for all pairs of pigeons. Adding the mutual contingency of reinforcement led to (a) a slight reduction of the production of individual and mutual consequences without any coordinated response pattern; (b) the maintenance of high percentages of individual consequences with a concomitant increase in mutual consequences; and (c) for only one subject, an increase in the production of mutual consequences that were accompanied by a decrease in the rate of individual consequences. We discuss the ways in which cooperation and metacontingency experiments should be integrated, the ways in which interlocking behaviors of nonhuman animals can be generated, and the role of verbal behavior in the emergence of cooperation and cultural processes.


Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 4:00 pm


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.


Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 4:00 pm


Adolescents’ Implicit and Explicit Attitudes Toward Cyberbullying: an Exploratory Study Using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) and Self-Report Measures

Abstract

The current study reports the findings of an experiment in which adolescents’ explicit and implicit attitudes toward cyberbullying were explored. Participants first completed an explicit measure of their attitudes toward cyberbullying, followed by an implicit measure in the form of the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP). Results revealed that participants displayed a combination of anti- and pro-cyberbullying attitudes. There was no statistically significant correlation between participants’ implicit and explicit attitudes toward cyberbullying. The current findings may have important implications for our understanding of adolescents’ attitudes toward cyberbullying and the development of relevant educational programs.


Mon, 23 Oct 2017, 5:00 pm


Effects of a Reinforcement Schedule Controlling Energy of Pigeons’ Pecking Response

Abstract

Operant behavior involves many physical dimensions, including time, force, location, and distance. Energy is an important dimension in foraging behavior or motor response. Kono (Learning & Behavior, 41, 425–432, 2013) developed a schedule in which the controlling variable was the energy of responses, calculated by dividing the squared value of the distance between two consecutive responses by the squared value of the interresponse time, or the elapsed time between the two responses. This energy schedule demonstrated the possibility of differential reinforcement of the energy of responses, but the effect was relatively weak. Kono (Learning & Behavior, 41, 425–432, 2013) proposed that this weak effect could have been caused by two features of the adjusting procedure: the use of two or more schedules and variation in the reinforced energy of responses across trials depending on the subjects’ previous choice. The present study employed a single energy schedule whose requirement was fixed throughout the session. The results showed that the energy of responses increased as the requirement of the energy schedule increased. In addition, the degree of increase was greater for distance of responses than for time of responses. These results suggest that the energy schedule is a suitable method for controlling the energy of behavior, and the distance of responses has a greater effect than time.


Thu, 31 Aug 2017, 5:00 pm


Omission Training Results in More Resurgence than Alternative Reinforcement

Abstract

Resurgence refers to the reemergence of a previously reinforced response following the extinction of a more recently reinforced response. In a published study, resurgence occurred to a lesser extent following differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) than differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) with pigeons, but this effect has not been replicated with humans. We conducted a within-subject comparison of resurgence following DRA and DRO, using a human-operant preparation. Six college students earned points by clicking a mouse button across two-component multiple schedules. During both baseline components, points were delivered for the first click to a black circle after 2 s. Responding on the black circle decreased during the second phase, using a DRA in one component and a DRO in the other component. We tested for resurgence by terminating point deliveries (extinction) during both components in the third phase. For three of the participants, more resurgence occurred in the component previously associated with DRO than the component previously associated with DRA. The other three participants showed more resurgence in the first component experienced during extinction, regardless of whether that component was associated with DRA or DRO. However, resurgence was exacerbated when the first component during extinction was DRO rather than DRA. Although sequence influenced resurgence, DRA may be preferable to DRO as an intervention when resurgence is a concern.


Thu, 31 Aug 2017, 5:00 pm


Parallels and Incongruities between Musical and Verbal Behaviors

Abstract

The study of music in behavior analytic accounts constitutes a poorly addressed area of application due to conceptual incongruities in the field and a general lack of common ground between the disciplines of music and behavior analysis. This paper will examine the suitability of Skinner’s (1957) analysis of verbal behavior in describing various musical behaviors and propose clarifications of verbal behavior constructs to account for the conceptual similarities and differences between musical and verbal behaviors. The musical concepts of mimicry, relative pitch, and absolute pitch are also discussed from the perspective of a verbal behavior analysis. These are presented as examples of how presumably innate musical abilities remain subject to operant principles of behavior modification and how certain conventions of music may suggest novel functional relations that could expand the existing categorization of operants.


Thu, 31 Aug 2017, 5:00 pm


Responding and Learning by Exclusion in 2-Year-Olds: The Case of Adjectives

Abstract

Responding by exclusion, usually investigated using a baseline of auditory-visual conditional discriminations for which auditory samples are names, is a robust phenomenon; however, it lacks generality to other lexical word classes. This study had two purposes: (1) to assess the generality of learning by exclusion to word–object property relations, and (2) to evaluate the effect of additive exclusion trials on learning outcomes. Children (aged 24 to 29 months) were taught auditory-visual baselines for three object name–object relations (Noun condition) and/or three adjective (emotion) names–facial expressions relations (Adjective condition). Each baseline and its associated tests were presented sequentially; the order was counterbalanced across participants. After baseline performance met criterion, exclusion, control, and learning outcome trials in extinction were intermixed with reinforced baseline trials, and followed by additive reinforced exclusion trials and learning outcome tests. More trials to criterion were required to establish the Adjective baseline, but the exclusion and learning outcome results of both conditions were comparable, suggesting that responding and learning by exclusion have generality across stimulus (lexical) types. Additive exclusion trials increased learning outcomes, especially for one type of learning probe. The necessary and sufficient tests to determine learning outcomes of exclusion responding still deserve discussion and investigation.


Thu, 31 Aug 2017, 5:00 pm