UBC Theses and Dissertations
A comparison of response-contingent stimulus pairing and operant discrimination training to establish vocal stimuli as reinforcers Pastrana, Sarah Justine
Conditioned reinforcers are used frequently in behavioural interventions for individuals with developmental disabilities. It is common to use several reinforcers in behavioural interventions to account for changes in preference over time and to reduce the likelihood of satiation (Moher, Gould, Hegg, & Mahoney, 2008). Conditioning procedures are effective for increasing the number of stimuli that function as reinforcers. Conditioning procedures might be particularly important for individuals with limited social reinforcers given social stimuli, such as praise, are delivered frequently as a consequence for appropriate responding. Although a number of studies have evaluated the effects of different conditioning procedures, there are no comprehensive guidelines or recommendations for establishing conditioned reinforcers. Additional research is needed to identify the most effective method(s) of establishing conditioned reinforcers. The purpose of the current study was three-fold: 1) to investigate whether there is a functional relationship between response-contingent stimulus pairing and increasing the reinforcing value of vocal stimuli, 2) to investigate whether there is a functional relationship between operant discrimination training and increasing the reinforcing value of vocal stimuli, and 3) to compare the relative effectiveness of response-contingent stimulus pairing and operant discrimination training to condition vocal stimuli as reinforcers for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Five individuals between the ages of 6- to 12-years old participated in the study. All participants were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. An adapted alternating treatments design was used to evaluate the effects of response-contingent stimulus pairing and operant discrimination training on neutral vocal stimuli. Overall, the results showed that response frequency and session duration during reinforcer probes for response-contingent stimulus pairing and the SD were higher following exposure to the conditioning procedures for three of five participants. These results indicate that both response-contingent stimulus pairing and operant discrimination training were effective in establishing vocal stimuli as conditioned reinforcers for some of the participants.
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