Date of Award

8-1-2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Rehabilitation

First Advisor

Ringdahl, Joel

Abstract

Preference assessments provide individuals with an opportunity to make choices and thus, increase their autonomy. Furthermore, preference assessments are used to identify stimuli that can be used as reinforcers in behavior change programs. Two studies were conducted to examine the validity of vocal preference assessments used with adults with developmental disabilities. In Study 1, the concurrent validity between vocal and stimulus paired-choice assessments, with and without activity access following a participant's selection, was evaluated. Spearman's rank correlation coefficients were computed to evaluate the correspondence between assessments. Results showed that similarity in consequence (i.e., activity access) impacted the correspondence between preference assessment results; whereas, similarity in antecedent (i.e., assessment format) did not impact the correspondence between preference assessment results. In Study 2, the predictive validity of reinforcer effectiveness of the preference assessments from Study 1 were evaluated. Specifically, the reinforcing efficacy and potency of high-preference activities were evaluated using a progressive-ratio schedule of reinforcement, within a multielement design. Results showed the preference assessments that included activity access were more likely to identify reinforcers that were effective under increasing response requirements, than were assessments that did not include activity access.

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