Signs of Damage: Skinner From "Contingencies of Reinforcement" Page 51: "The principle also holds for aggressive behavior. At a time when men were often plundered and killed, by animals and other men, it was important that any behavior which harmed or frightened predators should be quickly learned and long sustained. Those who were most strongly reinforced by evidences of damage to others should have been most likely to survive." Page 129: "A person who is at the moment aggressive is one who, among other characteristics, shows a heightened probability of behaving verbally or nonverbally in such a way that someone is damaged..." Page 195: "Azrin, for example, has studied the stereotyped, mutually aggressive behavior evoked when two organisms receive brief electric shocks. But he and his associates have also demonstrated that the opportunity to engage in such behavior functions as a reinforcer and, as such, may be used to shape an indefinite number of "aggressive" operants of arbitrary topographies. Evidence of damage to others may be reinforcing for phylogenic reasons because it is associated with competitive survival. Competition in the current environment may make it reinforcing for ontogenic reasons."
Signs of Damage: Stimuli What stimuli are involved? Visual stimuli – blood, bruising, scratches, “upset” expressions Auditory stimuli – crying, screaming Response produced stimuli – pressure on teeth, pressure on hands/feet
Early Non-Human Research Shock “elicited” fighting Subjects: Rats Procedure: Rats exposed to shock Measure: # of episodes of fighting Aggression was called “reflexive” Results: Most shocks evoked fighting
Early Non-Human Research Shock “elicited” biting of inanimate objects Subjects: Rats Procedure: Rats exposed to shock Measure: # of episodes of biting of metal, wood, or rubber targets
Early Non-Human Research Aggression evoked by schedules of reinf Subjects: Pigeons Procedure: Ss exposed to FR 50 Measure: # attacks to target pigeon Results: Most attacks occurred during PRP
Early Non-Human Research What kind of target is the best? Subjects: Pigeons Procedure: Ss exposed to FR 80-120 Measure: # attacks to target (Mirror, Live protected, Stuffed)
Early Non-Human Research Biting as a function of FR size Subjects: Squirrel monkeys Procedure: Ss exposed to FR schedules (50-200) Measure: # bites of a rubber hose Results: 1) Most biting occurred in PRP as a function of ratio size 2) also occurred in Ext
Early Non-Human Research Biting evoked by schedules of reinforcement
Does Effort Matter? Subjects: Pigeons Procedure: Ss exposed to FR and yoked schedules of free food (MT = matched time) Measure: # attacks
Early Non-Human Research Opportunity to Aggress: Is it a reinforcer? Subjects: Squirrel monkeys Procedure: Chain pulls rubber ball to bite Results: Presentation of ball reinforced/maintained chain pulls
Early Non-Human Research Opportunity to Aggress: Is it a reinforcer?
Early Non-Human Research Opportunity to Aggress: Is it a reinforcer? Subjects: Pigeons Procedure: 1) FI schedule for food and 2) 2 nd key pecks access to a target pigeon
Recent Non-Human Research Opportunity to Aggress: Is it a reinforcer? Subjects: Mice Procedure: Intruder mouse presented after completion of FR 8 vs Ext Results: Concurrent food schedule not needed
Summary Aversive stimuli will evoke aggression Shock Reinforcement offset Work requirements Heat Strikes to body The opportunity to aggress will function as a reinforcer for behavior Most likely occurs when aversive stimuli are present May occur in absence of such stimuli in some members of species
Conclusions Aggression evoked by aversive stimuli is not a respondent If operant, what reinforces it? Signs of damage (cf Skinner): cowering, crying, blood, running away Pressure on body part used to attack (e.g., teeth, fists) How do we talk about this? Signs of damage and/or related stimuli may be naturally reinforcing in some species, or some members of a species EO s may be aversive events and schedules of reinforcement We should address this in behavioral assessment and Tx
Implications Standard Functional Analyses Unclear results But naturalistic observations suggested that attention was a factor, but attention was given in loud, emotionally-charged bouts David M. Richman and Louis P. Hagopian
Implications Idiosyncratic Conditions in Functional Analysis Exaggerated Attention: “dramatic reaction to Tim’s destructive behaviors that included a high level of voice intonation, verbal phrases such as “I can’t believe that you just did that,” and physical signs of displeasure such as waving his/her hands frantically. “
Functional Analyses Results Case #1 FA Higher rates of problem behavior when caregiver reacted “upset” than when caregiver provided a neutral reprimand, or during no attention conditions Seeks out other kids crying Case #2 FA Throwing items/tipping chairs increased when mom reacted “frustrated” or “aggravated” compared to neutral reprimands.
Case Study #3 Descriptive assessment information Engages in SIB (arm scratching, and picking) during free time that produces blood Looks for bruising after aggression Aggression is more likely in presence of aversive stimuli (e.g., denied access to items/activities, work requirements) Property destruction when denied access – and would carefully look at the item Would mand for item to break!
Case Study #3 Tx elements Replacement skill: Select alternatives when denied access Waiting Fade in work requirements Mand for delay of reinforcer offset Calendar of when events will occur Extinction? Can signs of damage be withheld? Wear long sleeves during sessions Punishment – loss of items/activities/contingent exercise
Extensions Unexplained phenomena “Extinction-induced” aggression – is it “reflexive?” Extinction as EO for signs of damage and other concomitant stimuli Side effects of punishment: aggression! Punishment stimuli as EO for signs of damage and other concomitant stimuli
Implications for Tx and Assessment Behavior Assessment Preference assessments Standard preference assessments with signs of damage stimuli Preference assessments in presence of aversive stimuli Interviews should address this Functional analyses with signs of damage Cowering targets “Angry” caregivers Contingent property destruction Objects to hit/bite (safely!) Tx procedures Antecedent manipulations Replacement skills Concurrent schedules of reinforcement for appropriate behavior Reduction procedures Go
Sample Program Antecedent Manipulations Remove target - When sister hits Fred, separate Remove target during work requirements - Keep sister away from Fred when she is engaged in chores Frequent physical games Have potential targets do pairing Wear long sleeves during sessions? Acquisition Skills Mands for physical activity Select alternatives when denied access Be willing to use large magnitude reinforcers Waiting programs Slowly increase wait time Especially consider waiting in divided attention situations Function: Signs of Damage
Sample Program Acquisition Skills (continued) Task completion Slowly increase response requirements Use large magnitude reinforcers Consider VR instead of FR schedules Reduction Procedures Removal of targets Extinction: Withhold damage if possible Punishment? Side effects! Punishment maybe an EO for further signs of damage maintained aggression Function: Signs of Damage
Implications (continued) Structured Interview Questions Does the person seek out items to break? Does the person seek out blood or injury? After aggression, does the person attempt to see the injuries of the victim? Does the behavior occur when denied access to items/activities, even though they have not been given after the behavior? Does the person aggress after consuming a reinforcer for which he/she had to work hard? Does the person seem to enjoy seeing others upset? Does the person tend to throw objects when denied access to items/activities? Return
Aggression as a Built-in Reinforcer Betta Splendens