2022: Elizabeth Thuman

University of North Carolina Wilmington 

Elizabeth (Liz) Thuman is a Ph.D. student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) under the mentorship of Dr. Chris Hughes. Liz has a bachelor of arts in psychology with minors in applied behavior analysis and neuroscience from UNCW. Liz graduates with her master of arts in applied behavior analysis in August 2022. Liz’s primary research interests include the experimental analysis of punishment, in particular the mechanisms responsible for the effects of timeout from positive reinforcement and contingent work procedures.


Liz’s dissertation research focuses on positive practice overcorrection (PPOC), a commonly used punishment procedure within a variety of settings. Early research on PPOC was conducted within academic, clinical, and home settings (e.g., Doleys et al., 1976; Carey & Bucher, 1983; Cole et al., 2000); however, it seems necessary and important to make the connection between applied and basic realms to fully understand the mechanisms underlying PPOC’s effectiveness. This study is designed to answer questions that have arisen from applied research such as what is the optimal duration of PPOC, should the contingent work necessarily be related to the punished response, what is the mechanism underlying the punishment effect, and how should we consider the social validity of these procedures? More translational research in this area will allow for applications of PPOC to be most effective and ethical.


The 2022 Innovative Student Research Dissertation Grant will help fund Liz’s doctoral research, which is a two-experiment study designed to examine the mechanisms underlying the effectiveness of PPOC procedures by disentangling the confounded components of the procedure within an animal model. This will be examined by yoking a timeout (TO) from positive reinforcement without a work requirement to the time required to complete a work requirement in PPOC. The second purpose is to evaluate the punishing effects of PPOC and the yoked TO when an alternative source of reinforcement is not (Experiment 1: single reinforcement key) and is (Experiment 2: concurrent schedule) available. By examining the optimal baseline through which to compare punishment effects, the aim is to inform the best practices for implementing PPOC or TO.



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