Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Negative Reinforcement through Contingent Easy-Task Presentation

Class

Article

Department

Special Education and Rehabilitation

Faculty Mentor

Timothy Slocum

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Abstract

Escape from instructional demands is one of the most common functions of problem behavior. Some research suggests that a switch from difficult to easy tasks may function as a reinforcer for problem behavior. This is especially dangerous in situations where easy tasks are part of the treatment procedure for problem behavior. This project examined the reinforcing effects of a switch from low-probability (low-p) to high-probability (high-p) tasks for individuals whose problem behavior was maintained by escape from demands. It also provided preliminary evidence as to the quality of reinforcement in a switch from low-p to high-p tasks. Participants included individuals with developmental disabilities who engaged in problem behavior maintained by escape. We compared rate of problem behavior during two treatment conditions in relation baseline using a multi-element design. During the baseline condition, a break from demands was presented contingent on problem behavior. In the first treatment condition, problem behavior following a low-p task no longer resulted in a break from demands (escape extinction). During the second treatment condition, problem behavior following a low-p task resulted in a switch to high-p tasks. Participants engaged in varying levels of problem behavior during the escape extinction condition, and elevated levels of problem behavior during the second treatment condition. These results suggest that for individuals whose problem behavior is maintained by escape from demands, a switch from a low-p task to a high-p task reinforces problem behavior.

Start Date

4-9-2015 10:30 AM

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Apr 9th, 10:30 AM

Negative Reinforcement through Contingent Easy-Task Presentation

Escape from instructional demands is one of the most common functions of problem behavior. Some research suggests that a switch from difficult to easy tasks may function as a reinforcer for problem behavior. This is especially dangerous in situations where easy tasks are part of the treatment procedure for problem behavior. This project examined the reinforcing effects of a switch from low-probability (low-p) to high-probability (high-p) tasks for individuals whose problem behavior was maintained by escape from demands. It also provided preliminary evidence as to the quality of reinforcement in a switch from low-p to high-p tasks. Participants included individuals with developmental disabilities who engaged in problem behavior maintained by escape. We compared rate of problem behavior during two treatment conditions in relation baseline using a multi-element design. During the baseline condition, a break from demands was presented contingent on problem behavior. In the first treatment condition, problem behavior following a low-p task no longer resulted in a break from demands (escape extinction). During the second treatment condition, problem behavior following a low-p task resulted in a switch to high-p tasks. Participants engaged in varying levels of problem behavior during the escape extinction condition, and elevated levels of problem behavior during the second treatment condition. These results suggest that for individuals whose problem behavior is maintained by escape from demands, a switch from a low-p task to a high-p task reinforces problem behavior.