Hi! First of all, I congratulate you for this blog, it is extremely useful for me, as I am preparing for my BCaBA exam. For now I am struggling with MOs, more precisely with MOs for punishment. Can you give some more examples of them? Thanks!

- Asked by ancagrigo

Thanks for the question @ancagrigo (and your compliments)!

Just a quick primer on motivating operations (MO) which I wrote about here.  MO is an event that alters the value of a consequence that has in the past reinforced or punished a behaviour.  

Most of the attention on MO relates to reinforcement; often referring to deprivation and satiation effects.  If you are in a state of deprivation, the reinforcer has more value.  If you are satiated, the reinforcer’s value goes down.  I love doughnuts but there are only so many I can eat!

Now, for punishment some of the MO effects to look out for are habituation (developed tolerance to an aversive stimuli that its use as a positive punisher seems to have no effect) and satiation (has had enough of a pleasant stimuli that it being taken away via negative punishment is no big deal).

For some people, the taste and smell of cigarettes is enough to punish their first few attempts at smoking. For others, repeated exposure to the taste and smell may result in habituation; therefore, no longer functioning as aversive (and therefore punishing). Go a little while without smoking and the taste/smell may once again become aversive enough to function as punishment.  This may also be the role in self-injury and the registration of pain.   

Your current financial state may alter the punishing effects of fines and levies.  Taking away what little money I have could change my driving behaviour.  Now imagine that same person finds out they won the lottery (and now presumably has lots of cash).  If fined for speeding, they may experience no real loss from it and therefore no decrease in behaviour occurs.  Other examples can include any time someone wants to take access to an activity away and the person appears not to care.  If they’ve had a lot of access just before, taking it away now may have little effect.

I hope these examples helped to represent the value-altering effects of MOs on learned punishers.  We definitely need more research and dialogue in this area as I suspect this is where most punishment-based interventions stop “working”, suggesting they probably shouldn’t have been implemented in the first place.

Best of luck on your BCaBA exam!  May all the Sd’s be lined up just right for you!

~Tricia-Lee  

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Pumpkin Spice Latte vs BCBA exam

I have yet to indulge in a pumpkin spice latte this season. I can’t decide if I should do a reinforcement sampling technique and have one BEFORE my exam or make it contingent on completing the exam and have one AFTER.

My husband suggested I could do both. 

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Fun with Intraverbals

  • Eric (via text): Damn right skippy
  • Me (via text): Hippie
  • I do not even know the origin of this phrase. Every time someone says, "Skippy" I reply, "Hippie". It makes me smile.
fltnessmotivation:

Exactly

This is why I preach taking single-subject, time series data; even better if you (or the student) take your/their own data (self-monitoring). Everyone’s baseline is going to be different. Rates of acquisition differ. The only comparison that needs to be made are to your earlier performances.

fltnessmotivation:

Exactly

This is why I preach taking single-subject, time series data; even better if you (or the student) take your/their own data (self-monitoring). Everyone’s baseline is going to be different. Rates of acquisition differ. The only comparison that needs to be made are to your earlier performances.

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Beware the Behaviour Contrast

It’s just a small change …they thought

We decided he/she no longer needs that much [reinforcer] anymore.

We’re taking away that [reinforcer]  and they do.

And now there are problems; problem behaviours have emerged or are increasing either at school or at home.  What has happened is a phenomena known as behavioural contrast.

Behavioural contrast is a change in the rate of a behaviour in one setting when changes are made in another setting; these changes are often restrictions or limits placed on the behaviour and/or access to the reinforcer.  This occurs because many of our behaviours are on a multiple schedule of reinforcement.  Each schedule (i.e., how often/when the reinforcer is accessed) is different depending on such variables as where we are and who is present.  For example, eating at home and access to food occurs occurs quite freely so rates of eating may be higher there.  At school or work, eating is only permitted at certain times of the day and there may be limits as to what someone can eat (e.g., you may not have access to a stove to cook fresh Kraft Dinner).  Restrictions or changes in one environment can increase food-accessing behaviours in the other.

A common reinforcer to try and plan for in classroom settings is access to technology (e.g, computer, iPad, video games).  These are typically items students also have access to at home.  When planning on their use as a reinforcer in the classroom it is important to have communication with home to get a sense of how often those items are accessed and under what conditions (and vice versa - i.e., it would be a good idea for the home to know how often a reinforcer is accessed at school).  Are they freely accessed?  Are they earned?  And if so, for how long?  Have they been recently taken away as “punishment”?  Has their use been scaled back because the thought was the person is spending too much time on these devices?  

Behavioural contrast tells us that changes to reinforcement in one environment will effect rates of behaviour in the other.  Ideally both home and school have a similar/consistent approach to the use of reinforcers to avoid a large contrast.  Concerns typically arise when one setting suddenly makes changes and does not notify the other setting.  Reinforcers may become ineffective in one setting because of increased/free access in the other OR because of limits and restrictions in one setting, the student is now engaging in more behaviours that access that reinforcer in the other setting.  

Reinforcement is a delicate thing.  Behaviour can be fickle as a result. The message here: treat even the smallest changes as though they will have a large impact on others.  Discuss changes as a team.  Involve all parties (including the student).  Plan and prepare to avoid large behavioural contrasts.     

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Hi Tricia-Lee, I came upon your site while looking for information on implementing ABA strategies in general education classrooms for behavior management. Any articles that you can suggest would be greatly appreciated, as most everything I find is about inclusion of students with autism or special education classrooms.

- Asked by Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for stopping by and looking into how you can integrate Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) into your classroom.  I’ll list a few key resources where you can find more general information as well as search for articles specific to your classroom needs.

  • For an overview of ABA with classroom examples, I recommend the book, ‘Applied Behavior Analysis for Teachers' (Alberto & Troutman)
  • For hands-on tools and resources for problem solving and developing behaviour support plans I recommend the book ‘Prevent, Teach, Reinforce' (Dunlap et al.)
  • There are lots of articles related to Positive Behaviour Supports (or Positive Behaviour Interventions & Support - PBIS) in schools/classrooms on this website:  www.pbis.org.  **PBS/PBIS is the education friendly little sister of ABA so if you are searching for resources you may find more by using PBS/PBIS as a term of reference. 
  • On that note, you will find some research on ABA in the classroom via the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions

This should be a good place to start.  If you are looking for a specific technique or application of ABA for the classroom setting you are welcome to follow up with another ask.

Cheers & R+ 

~ Tricia-Lee

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Contingency of the day: Not on this menu

  • Antecedent: My nephew is sitting beside me. I am looking at a menu with lots of pages in it. Nephew has a crayon in his hand and had been previously colouring on his kids menu.
  • Behaviour: Reaches over to my menu with his crayon and attempts to mark the page with it.
  • Consequence: I say "no" and take my menu away.
  • There are times when you just have to say "no". The restaurant probably wouldn't appreciate having their professionally done menus marked up with crayon. The paper kids menu is the discriminative stimulus (SD) for colouring; thus, as soon as my menu was out of reach I placed his menu closer to his hand with the crayon and said he could colour there (which he did). I resumed glancing through my menu in my nephew's presence and there were no further attempts to mark it up (i.e., behaviour decreased). Therefore, my "no" was punishment for colouring on the "adult" menu.
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micdotcom:

Hmm. This doesn’t add up.

Boy, this is odd. Fox News posted the following poll during July 30’s edition of Special Report, which seems to indicate that 110% of voters in Senate battleground states disapprove of the president’s job performance.
Quality work, Fox.
It’s not the first time Fox News’ math has been off | Follow micdotcom


Not only that, but the variables aren’t valid with respect to the question. Not one single person in the survey replied, “approve”?  Bias survey, made-up data and therefore poor journalism (if you can call Fox News journalism). 
This is why we need science literacy.  

micdotcom:

Hmm. This doesn’t add up.

Boy, this is odd. Fox News posted the following poll during July 30’s edition of Special Report, which seems to indicate that 110% of voters in Senate battleground states disapprove of the president’s job performance.

Quality work, Fox.

It’s not the first time Fox News’ math has been off | Follow micdotcom

Not only that, but the variables aren’t valid with respect to the question. Not one single person in the survey replied, “approve”?  Bias survey, made-up data and therefore poor journalism (if you can call Fox News journalism). 

This is why we need science literacy.  

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Featured Tag: Extinction Burst Alert! And how FourSquare didn’t see this coming

In an effort to collate common themes among my posts, ‘Extinction Burst Alert!' is another featured tag I'll be posting under.  

I see extinction in practice almost every day.  Extinction is the process where the reinforcer for a previously learned behaviour is now withheld; thus decreasing/eliminating a behaviour over time.  Over several days, weeks, months etc. a person has responded with behaviour X which was consistently followed by reinforcer Y.  Withhold the reinforcer and the person experiences a sort-of “What the heck?” moment and tries the behaviour again.  Still, the reinforcer is not forthcoming.  Now come the repeated attempts, emotional responses and other more intense behaviours in an effort to gain access to the reinforcer.  This is known as the extinction burst.   A few more attempts here and there and eventually the behaviour stops occurring - assuming of course, that the reinforcer never comes.

When people experience feelings of frustration with or disappointment over something it is usually because they are not accessing reinforcement; most likely from extinction.  You have probably been witness to several extinction bursts in your lifetime.

If you want a good example of extinction burst happening right now, look up FourSquare users on Twitter (search .@foursquare or #swarm). There’s a bit of a revolt happening right now since FourSquare users can no longer use the app for check-ins; instead being prompted to use another app called Swarm.  This new app seems to have less features then the previous FourSquare.  The usual-check-in method is no longer working (i.e., reinforcement via use of the app is been withheld) and people are expressing their discontent with both apps.  Some have already given up on FourSquare altogether.  Extinction was too successful there.  Unfortunately, reinforcing the new use of Swarm is where the app is failing; an unsuitable replacement for people looking for ease and efficiency in their social media use.

I’m thinking FourSquare would have done good to have a behaviour analyst on their development team!

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Psychology Comes To Halt As Weary Researchers Say The Mind Cannot Possibly Study Itself ]

Ahhhhh…knock knock. Looks like Radical Behaviourism finally got invited to the party!

*Yes, I know it’s The Onion…but you gotta laugh at their mocking of the field using what B.F. Skinner kinda preached all along. 

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