Thursday, August 11, 2016

Behavioral engineering: Postural control by portable electromechanical vs. toilet bowl plunger operant apparati

Problem of social importance


Behavioral psychologists who sit in an office all day long have weak spines.

Pioneering solution

Azrin et al., (1968). Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA). Summer 1968, pp. 99-108. Behavioral engineering: Postural control by portable (electromechanical) operant apparatus.




(1) During post-experimental applications Azrin et al.'s (1968) convoluted slump detection device proved to be so ineffective that it actually misread ABA professors' penile erections as a slouches and misfired its white noise machine consequences into the astounded subjects' ears while their postures were flawless.

See, for examples:

(Azrin et al., 1968, p. 101, Fig. 1 Caption):

Front and rear view of a subject wearing the posture switch. The front view in the upper sketch shows the signal component worn around the neck. A wire runs from the component, under the arm, to the posture switch on the back which is shown in the lower sketch. The posture switch is attached to the back by two strips of adhesive tape. The subjects wore their outer garments over the assembly which was thereby concealed from view.
(Azrin et al., 1968, p. 102, Fig. 2 Caption):

Front and rear view of a subject wearing the posture switch. The front view in the upper sketch shows the signal component worn around the neck. A wire runs from the component, under the arm, and to the posture switch on the back which is shown in the lower sketch. The posture switch is attached by the shoulder straps which are adjusted for the desired posture for the individual subject. Outer garments are worn over the assembly and thereby conceal it from view. 

Apparatus definition of response. The apparatus defined slouching as an increased distance between two points on the back. A miniature snap action switch (Model 1lSMl, Microswitch) was modified to operate upon being pulled rather than pushed. This posture switch was mounted on the back at about the level of the second thoracic vertebra (see Fig. 1). The switch was connected to an elastic cord and attached to the back such that rounding of the back caused the switch contacts to close. Two methods of attachment to the back were used: adhesive tape was used for most subjects to provide the more exact measure of the response for purposes of experimental evaluation (see Fig. 1). A second method was a harness (see Fig. 2) which allowed a slight error due to movement of the straps but was more convenient for the subject: it could be removed and attached by the subject himself once adjusted properly, whereas the adhesive mounting required assistance and readjustment for each wearing. Fifteen subjects used the adhesive mounting and 10 the harness. A small strip of tape was used to hold the harness strap in a fixed position on the shoulders for some of the subjects who wore the harness. The amount of slouching needed to activate the switch was determined by the subject's own judgment. The subject was asked to assume a shoulder posture which he felt bordered on, but did not constitute, slouching and which he would like to maintain. The switch was adjusted via the adhesive tape or straps to be on the point of activation at that posture. The subject then returned to his usual activities for about 5 min after which dorsal curvature such that increased spinal curvature rather than the rounding of the back activated the posture switch. For other subjects, the switch was adjusted vertically after the first 5-min trial to the first or third thoracic vertebra if that location provided a greater distance change during slouching.

(2) Social Validity experimental subjects satisfaction survey.

Azrin et el. (1968) described their 1968 slump consequence as a mere "tone."

However, in the summer of '16, Safety Pat replicated their experiment with five college-aged vacationing volunteers subjects on the Asbury Park, New Jersey Boardwalk and then conducted the plunger on head study with the same five young men and women.

Pat conducted a typically-underused-in-JABA Social Validity measurement to gauge their satisfaction levels of both interventions during (1) Pat's replication of Azrin's electro mechanical contraption and (2) Pat's plunger-falling-off-the-tip-of-the-head methodology.

All five subjects marked the survey at the checkbox that said that Azrin's white noise aversion was a "pain in the ass." They all, in turn, reported on the survey that the mild corrective punishment of picking up a plunger was a "barrel of laughs."

Modern solution


Safety Pat the Proud Autistic Schizophrenic Clown (2016). Journal of Absurd Behavior Analysis (JAbBA). Summer 2016. Behavioral engineering: Postural control by portable (toilet bowl plunger) operant apparatus.



This modern posture-correction plunger apparatus is a vast improvement upon Azrin et al. (1968)'s pioneering solution to the scoliosis "problem of social importance."

(1) Safety Pat's (2016) plunger device simplifies and improves the reliability of slump detection. All you do is stick a plunger on top of your head, and as long as there is no Nor'easter approaching Safety Pat's stable clown spot in front of Tim Mcloone's Supper Club at the Asbury Park, New Jersey Boardwalk, then the plunger always falls off the heads of Pat's five hundred thousand fans as soon as they round their backs with plungers on heads. (2a) Pat's picking-up-the-plunger, self-control, overcorrection technology offers Pat's actually autistic and neurotypical experimental-subject fans a much milder aversive stimulus than Azrin et al.'s typical, antiquated, highly-masochistic, self-control torture technique.

(2)

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I am an advocate for people with disabilities certified to teach special education with a Master of Arts in Teaching. I am not a Licensed Psychologist or a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. When in doubt, seek the advice of an MD, a PhD, or a BCBA. My ability to analyze the ethics of ABA stems from the fact that I am disabled and ABA interventions are often done to people like me, which I voluntarily accept, but only when I alone am the person granting consent, and not a parent, sibling, guardian, or institution.