Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Prior research has demonstrated the utility of several preference-assessment methodologies to identify stimuli more likely to function as reinforcers for individuals with limited verbal repertoires. However, differing results have been obtained from studies evaluating the reinforcement effects of stimuli identified as high preference by one assessment method but low preference by another assessment method. The first focus of the project was to evaluate the reinforcing efficacy of edible and leisure items based on predictions from preference assessments. Results indicated that edible and leisure items approached frequently during a single-stimulus preference assessment but infrequently during a paired-stimulus preference assessment produced less reinforcing efficacy in comparison to edible and leisure items approached frequently during both assessments. However, items identified as moderately or low preferred based on the results of paired-stimulus assessments still maintained responding during reinforcer assessments for 4 out of 5 items assessed. Implications of these results for the utility and interpretation of two separate preference-assessment methodologies are discussed. The second focus of the project was to evaluate if preference and/or reinforcing efficacy could be increased through conditioning procedures for individuals with limited interest in activities (a core symptom of Autism Spectrum Disorder). Responding during preference and reinforcer assessments did not increase following differential reinforcement of appropriate toy play with low preference leisure items. Potential factors in producing this lack of increase in preference or reinforcer efficacy are discussed.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Noell, George



Included in

Psychology Commons