2017: Daniel Mitteer

University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe-Meyer Institute

Daniel Mitteer is a doctoral candidate at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe-Meyer Institute under the supervision of Dr. Brian Greer. Daniel’s primary research interests are applying the methodology and principles from the behavior analytic relapse literature (e.g., behavioral momentum, resurgence as choice, contextual theories) to the assessment and treatment of severe destructive behavior. Daniel is interested in understanding and strengthening caregiver treatment adherence to behavior analytic treatments such as functional communication training (FCT). Caregiver treatment adherence to FCT involves high rates of desirable caregiver behavior (e.g., providing reinforcers following a child’s mands) and low rates of undesirable caregiver behavior (e.g., providing reinforcers following the child’s destructive behavior). The super-resurgence preparation (Kincaid, Lattal, & Spence, 2015) combines renewal and resurgence tests by changing contexts and suspending the reinforcement contingency for desirable behavior simultaneously, which may lead to high rates of undesirable behavior during this treatment-challenge phase. This preparation is analogous to typical outpatient arrangements in which behavior analysts train caregivers to implement FCT in the clinic before the caregiver returns to the home setting, wherein the child might engage in a bout of destructive behavior despite the caregiver adhering to treatment. Super-resurgence of undesirable caregiver behavior (e.g., providing reinforcers following the child’s destructive behavior despite explicit training in FCT procedures) may result in collateral relapse of child destructive behavior.


The 2017 Innovative Student Research Dissertation Grant will assist Daniel in assessing super-resurgence of undesirable caregiver behavior following two caregiver-training approaches. Daniel will recruit groups of caregivers and simulate destructive behavior using adult confederates in a home-like context. In the behavioral skills training (BST) group, caregivers will receive BST in a clinic context and practice FCT with the confederate; then the caregivers will return to the home-like context in which the confederate will appear “inconsolable,” which will test for super-resurgence of undesirable caregiver behavior. In the enhanced-BST group, the behavior analyst will implement three refinements that have empirical support in the relapse literature (in-vivo performance feedback, multiple-context training, and treatment signals) to determine if enhanced BST will strengthen treatment adherence. The findings may inform the examination of caregiver treatment adherence with actual caregiver-child dyads. 


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