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.


Tue, 28 Mar 2017, 5:00 pm


The Simple Memory Span Experiment: A Behavioral Analysis

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to present a behavioral theory of performance in the simple (classic) memory span experiment. This experiment has been used to investigate hypothetical mental and neurological processes and intelligent function, but behavioral span theory takes the standpoint of event-based constructs. Established empirical limits on memory span are described in terms of span ability, namely, the ability to function under span load. Span load is a count of the number of discriminative stimuli that function concurrently to occasion responding. Span ability is assessed via standard memory span procedures. The theory distinguishes response string from response chain on the basis of the locus of stimulus control; the response string is controlled by the multiple stimuli in a stimulus string or stimulus complex. Response chains are emitted intraverbals. There is no known limit to the length of a chain that can be attained through extensive experiential history, but the memory span experiment assesses the length of response strings that are severely limited at around 7 items (the span limit) and are quite resistant to change. Span limits increase during the developmental period and covary with intelligent function. The values of span ability and span load are potent tools for the prediction and control of developmental and individual differences in diverse experimental paradigms drawn from both behavior analytic and general experimental traditions.


Wed, 22 Mar 2017, 5:00 pm


Exploring Racial Bias in a European Country with a Recent History of Immigration of Black Africans

Abstract

The present study examined levels of racial bias among black and white individuals residing in Ireland using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) and a range of questionnaire measures. The IRAP required participants to respond quickly and accurately on a computer-based task. On some blocks of trials participants were required to respond in a pro-white and anti-black manner, whereas on other blocks responding in the opposite direction was required (anti-white/pro-black). The difference in response latencies between these two types of trials provided an index of racial bias. Performance on the IRAP (i) revealed in-group/out-group bias for the white but not the black participants; (ii) substantively increased the predictive validity of a range of questionnaire-based measures; and (iii) provided the best prediction of racial group. The results support the utility of the IRAP as a measure of racial bias, and indicate that this bias differed between black and white Irish residents.


Thu, 16 Mar 2017, 5:00 pm


One of Us

Wed, 15 Mar 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, 9 Mar 2017, 4:00 pm


A Comparison of Mazur’s k and Area Under the Curve for Describing Steep Discounters

Abstract

Delay discounting describes how a reward loses value as a function of increasing delay to its receipt and has been reliably associated with a variety of vulnerable populations including those with substance use disorders (SUDs). Two commonly used models to assess delay discounting in the field of SUDs include log k derived from Mazur’s hyperbolic equation and area under the curve (AUC). In the current study, we compared log k with AUC on delay discounting data obtained from non-treatment seeking, cocaine- and methamphetamine-dependent volunteers. We specifically chose this population in order to obtain a distribution of relatively steep discounters. The results show that the relationship between AUC and log k is better described by a quadratic rather than a linear function. In other words, changes in discounting, as measured by AUC and log k, are reflected differently across a range of obtained responses. Additionally, the distribution of AUC values was skewed, which appears to be more likely among populations exhibiting greater discounting. Finally, closer examination of indifference points revealed that AUC was almost perfectly predicted by the area from the two longest delays, with relatively less input from shorter delays. Given these results, researchers should exercise additional caution when deciding which method to use to assess discounting data and how final results are to be interpreted, particularly when dealing with relatively high rates of discounting. High rates of discounting are likely in populations with impulsive disorders such as those with SUDs.


Wed, 8 Mar 2017, 4:00 pm



Proportion of Available Points Predicts Student Attendance in College Courses

Abstract

One intervention used to increase attendance at collegiate class meetings is to provide points for activities that take place in class; however, the percentage of course points necessary to facilitate high attendance is unknown. In Experiment 1, we assessed the relation between the relative percentage of points available for in-class activities and student attendance across three psychology courses. Across all three courses, students were more likely to attend on class days when higher percentages of course points were available for in-class activities. In Experiment 2, we replicated our findings from Experiment 1 while assessing the relation between the absolute value of points available and student attendance across two additional psychology courses. The results of Experiment 2 show that the absolute number of points available influenced attendance less than the relative value of course points available for in-class activities. Our findings suggest that instructors should consider the relative value of points available on class days when attempting to design course activities to maximize attendance.


Tue, 28 Feb 2017, 4:00 pm


Laboratory Measures of Aggression in Methadone Patients Pre- and Postdose

Abstract

Purpose

Studies with humans have shown that acute opioid administration increases aggressive behavior, but no laboratory study has yet investigated whether opioid withdrawal produces comparable effects.

Methods

This study investigated whether mild opioid deprivation affected aggression in 6 males and 6 females (N = 12) undergoing methadone maintenance therapy. Aggressive behavior was measured using the point subtraction aggression paradigm (PSAP). Trait aggression was assessed using the Buss–Perry Aggression Questionnaire. Behavior on the PSAP and mood ratings on the Profile of Mood States questionnaire (POMS) were measured on two separate days; once before and once following the participant’s daily methadone dose, with order counterbalanced across participants.

Results

There were no effects of opioid withdrawal on aggressive responding, control response rates, monetary reinforced responding, or self-reports of mood. Rates of responding on the monetary-reinforced option increased across sessions regardless of condition, suggesting an exposure effect.

Conclusion

These data suggest that mild opioid deprivation occurring 24 hours following methadone administration in individuals undergoing methadone maintenance therapy does not increase aggression, at least in individuals showing low levels of aggressive behavior and low measures of trait aggression. Because participants reported no mood changes and there were no direct measures of withdrawal, it is possible that 24 hours of methadone deprivation produced no withdrawal in these participants. It remains to be determined whether more prolonged deprivation might generate more significant changes in mood and/or changes in aggressive behavior.


Tue, 28 Feb 2017, 4:00 pm


Effects of Reinforcement Context on Initial Link Responding in Concurrent Chain Reinforcement Schedules

Abstract

Previous research shows that relative initial- and terminal-link temporal duration influences concurrent chain choice proportions. However, little research has examined whether reinforcement outside of either links influences concurrent chain choice proportions and/or response rates. We examined this by conducting an experiment in which 11 pigeons responded on concurrent chain schedules that alternated with either fixed interval (FI) or fixed time (FT) reinforcement schedules. FI and FT schedules provided reinforcement every 20, 60 or 180 s. Concurrent chain schedules provided reinforcement on average every 60 s. Concurrent chain schedules were never available at the same time as the FI or FT schedule. Most pigeons decreased choice proportions as the temporal duration of the FI or FT schedules increased, similar to the initial-link effect. Consistent with behavior contrast research, initial link response rates significantly increased as reinforcement rate decreased during the FI and FT schedules. This is the first study to show that reinforcement outside of a concurrent chain schedule can significantly change choice proportions. The initial link response rate result suggests a novel way to look at initial link response rates, outside of changing reinforcement rates and temporal duration.


Tue, 28 Feb 2017, 4:00 pm


Effects of Programmed Errors of Omission and Commission During Auditory-Visual Conditional Discrimination Training With Typically Developing Children

Abstract

This series of translational studies investigated the effects of programmed treatment-integrity errors on skill acquisition for typically developing children during trial-and-error instruction for auditory-visual conditional discriminations. In Experiment 1, we examined the effects of errors of omission and commission with reinforcement delivery during 17% to 18% of trials compared to high-integrity instruction and a control condition. Programmed treatment-integrity errors impacted the efficiency of instruction. In Experiment 2, we increased the percentage of trials with errors of omission and commission to 20% to 30%. Higher percentages of errors of omission and commission impacted the efficiency of instruction for one participant and the efficacy of instruction for the other participant.


Tue, 28 Feb 2017, 4:00 pm


A Risk-Reduction Model of Sharing: Role of Social Stimuli and Inequity

Abstract

The present study experimentally investigated human cooperation (sharing) in a laboratory foraging task that simulated environmental variability and resource scarcity (shortfall risk). Specifically, it investigated whether a risk-reduction model of food sharing derived from the energy budget rule could predict human cooperative behavior. Participants responded on a computer task for money and were given the choice between working alone or working with others and pooling earnings. Earnings could be kept only if the sum exceeded an earnings requirement (i.e., a need level). The effects of social variables on sharing were investigated to determine whether they constrained optimal decision making. The experiments investigated choice when participants were told the partner was a computer or a (fictitious) partner (Experiment 1) and when the earnings between the participant and partner were inequitable (Experiment 2). The results showed that social variables had no effect on decision making. Instead, sharing patterns were in accord with predictions of the risk-reduction model. These results provide additional evidence that a risk-reduction model of food sharing derived from risk-sensitive foraging models may be useful for predicting human cooperation for monetary outcomes.


Tue, 28 Feb 2017, 4:00 pm


An Investigation into the Relationship between the Gender Binary and Occupational Discrimination Using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure

Abstract

The social construction of gender-as-binary plays an important role within many contemporary theories of gender inequality. However, to date, the field of psychology has struggled with the operationalization and assessment of binarist ideologies. The current article proposes a technical framework for the analysis of the gender binary and assesses the suitability of the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) as a measure of binarist gender beliefs. Forty-seven undergraduate students (26 female; M age = 23.84) completed two IRAPs assessing the coordination of certain traits exclusively with women and others exclusively with men. Effects found on the IRAP were in the expected direction (i.e., relating men but not women with certain traits and women but not men with other traits). In addition, the traits ascribed to men within the IRAP were evaluated as more hirable by a large majority of participants (83%) on an explicit preference task. The results therefore support the arguments that, first, gender traits do seem to be framed oppositionally in language and, second, this binary may underpin existing gender hierarchies in certain contexts.


Tue, 28 Feb 2017, 4:00 pm


Promoting Psychological Flexibility on Tolerance Tasks: Framing Behavior Through Deictic/Hierarchical Relations and Specifying Augmental Functions

Abstract

Recent research is advancing in the analysis of the defusion and self-based exercises used in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) through relational frame theory (RFT) terms. This study aimed to analyze the effect of two RFT-defined defusion protocols in promoting psychological flexibility by altering the discriminative functions of avoidance of aversive private events. Thirty participants first responded to several questionnaires. Subsequently, participants were exposed to 2 experimental tasks (pretest): a cold pressor and an aversive film. Participants were then randomly assigned to 3 experimental conditions: (a) a control condition, (b) a defusion protocol based on framing one’s own behavior through deictic relations (Defusion I), and (c) a defusion protocol that also included hierarchical relations and giving regulatory functions to that discrimination (Defusion II). Finally, participants were again exposed to the 2 experimental tasks (posttest). Results showed that participants who received the defusion protocols performed better in the posttest than did the control participants, and that Defusion II participants showed higher tolerance than Defusion I participants.


Tue, 28 Feb 2017, 4:00 pm


Categorical Discrimination of Sequential Stimuli: All S Δ Are Not Created Equal

Abstract

Pigeons were exposed to a novel variation of a stimulus discrimination task previously used with rats as a slot machine analog. We sought to replicate and extend characterizations of structural characteristics of responding, determine relations between those characteristics and identify predictors of individual differences in performance. Pecking during a “collect” phase produced food if and only if the keylight was red for the entire sample phase. In other trial types, the keylight was green, or started red and turned green after one or two pecks. The opportunity to respond was available for 5 s in all collect phases, permitting multiple responses per trial. Pigeons were less likely to peck in collect phases when sample stimuli were not all red, and when they did peck, it was at a lower rate. However, consistent with reactions to near wins in other slot machine tasks, there was more responding in collect phases that followed sample phases when the red keylight turned green after two pecks. Among initial response characteristics, response rate in trials that resembled near wins was the best predictor of terminal responding. Supporting their characterization as measures of stimulus control, collect proportions were negatively correlated with response times in the sample phase. Supporting their characterization as measures of conditioned reinforcing value, latency and response rate in collect phases were positively correlated, but neither was systematically correlated with proportion or sample phase response times. Ultimately, isolating measures of stimulus control and conditioned reinforcement may help determine the mechanisms responsible for near-win effects.


Tue, 28 Feb 2017, 4:00 pm


The Relation Between Sorting Tests and Matching-to-Sample Tests in the Formation of Equivalence Classes

Abstract

Using the simultaneous protocol, 20 college students attempted forming three 5-member equivalence classes (A → B → C → D → E). In Group 1, baseline training was followed serially with a sorting test, a matching-to-sample (MTS) test of derived relations, and a second sorting test. In Group 2, baseline training was followed with an MTS test, a sorting test, and a second MTS test. In Group 1, initial sorting showed the immediate emergence of three classes for five, one, or two classes for three, and no classes for two participants, respectively. The MTS test documented equivalence classes for three of the first five, one of the next three, and none for last two participants, respectively. Across participants, 19 of 27 classes in sorting (70 %) predicted presence/absence of corresponding equivalence classes in MTS tests. For three participants in Group 2, initial MTS testing showed immediate emergence of all equivalence classes with their maintenance in follow-up sorting tests. Three others showed no classes in MTS testing and emergence of all during sorting, documenting delayed emergence of classes. The last MTS test documented equivalence for one of these three participants. Two others showed no class formation in any test. With five of 16 participants who showed class formation in sorting, the positioning of the stimuli in sorting reflected the nodal structure of the classes. Variables that should increase prediction of equivalence classes by sorting were discussed.


Tue, 28 Feb 2017, 4:00 pm


Equivalence Based Instruction by Group Based Clicker Training and Sorting Tests

Abstract

Equivalence classes were formed of the names (A), time periods (B), and characteristics (C) of three stages of prenatal development of the students in a classroom. The baseline relations for these classes (AB and CB) were established on a group basis by the students in a classroom through the use of “feedback-enhanced clicker-training”. Thereafter, class formation was tracked on an individual basis with a very quickly administered sorting test. Classes emerged immediately for 84 % of 32 students in a single 75-minute class session. Thus, many students showed the immediate formation of equivalence classes when training was done on a group basis with a feedback-enhanced form of clicker training, and a sorting test was used to track class formation. We also considered some likely mechanisms that could account for learning the baseline relations by individual participants during clicker training. Finally, we considered the feasibility of using a clickers and sorting protocol to implement equivalence-based instruction.


Tue, 28 Feb 2017, 4:00 pm


Implicit Cross-Community Biases Revisited: Evidence for Ingroup Favoritism in the Absence of Outgroup Derogation in Northern Ireland

Abstract

Despite their application in virtually every area of psychological science, indirect procedures have rarely been used to study how Catholic and Protestants automatically respond to one another in Northern Ireland. What little evidence that does exist suggests that automatic ingroup favoritism occurs alongside outgroup derogation. That is, Catholics and Protestants automatically evaluate ingroup members more positively than outgroup members, and also evaluate outgroup members more negatively than ingroup members. The current study addresses a methodological limitation in this early work and provides the first (non-relativistic) assessment of intergroup relational responding in a post-conflict setting using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP). Contrary to earlier findings, participants displayed evidence of ingroup favoritism in the absence of outgroup derogation.


Tue, 28 Feb 2017, 4:00 pm


Effects of reward magnitude, alcohol and cigarette use on social discounting in Japan and United States college students

Abstract

Social discounting occurs when participants share more of a reward with individuals with whom they are close to, relative to those more distant individuals. Previous social discounting studies have shown consistent effects of drug use and reward magnitude on sharing. However, previous cross-cultural social discounting studies have not incorporated reward magnitude or drug use as factors that may influence discounting. The current experiment randomized 569 American and Japanese university students into either a standard ($150; ¥15,500) or large ($1,500; ¥155,000) magnitude condition where participants made choices about allocating hypothetical rewards to individuals at varying social distances. Participants also self-reported cigarette and alcohol use. There was no social discounting difference between American and Japanese participants at the standard reward magnitude. However, American participants shared more than Japanese participants at the large reward magnitude, replicating a previous study. Only Japanese participants showed a magnitude effect. Including age, gender, or cigarette and alcohol use as covariates did not change the main findings. However, similar to previous social discounting studies, cigarette use was a significant predictor for social discounting. Cross-cultural social discounting differences between American and Japanese participants were accounted for by reward magnitude.


Sun, 29 Jan 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.


Wed, 25 Jan 2017, 4:00 pm