Behavioral Economic Analyses of Reinforcement in the Experimental Analysis of Human Behavior
Chastain, James Allen
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Evidence-based advances in the field of Behavior Analysis have begun to demonstrate ways in which behavioral-economic methods may provide a coherent understanding of responding and consumption of reinforcers. This dissertation extends the literature to behavioral-economic analyses of programmed video reinforcement in the experimental analysis of human behavior (EAHB), as well as a novel reinforcement arrangement for reduction of in-session duration. Three aims served to guide this study: (a) demonstrate the feasibility and utility of behavioral-economic assessments of reinforcement in EAHB, (b) extend economic predictions of unit price to video reinforcement arrangements, and (c) evaluate the utility of an exponential model of demand for indexing essential value of reinforcement in EAHB. Across three experiments, investigators first arranged for analyses of responding and consumption under single-schedule arrangements for each reinforcer; a second concurrent-schedules arrangements for both reinforcers followed. Finally, three economic predictions of unit price were assessed under choice arrangements for access to video alone. Investigators analyzed data using an exponential model of demand to calculate essential value of reinforcers across experiments. Findings from Experiments 1 and 2 supported the utility of applying behavioral-economic methods within EAHB contexts, demonstrating adherence to established models of demand and work output (i.e., total responding). Findings from Experiment 3 supported economic predictions of unit price, with some noted deviations. Across all experiments, the exponential model of demand provided a good fit to obtained data.