Date of Award

8-1-2014

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Behavior Analysis and Therapy

First Advisor

Ringdahl, Joel

Second Advisor

Baker, Jonathan

Abstract

The preference assessment literature has mainly focused on children and adults with developmental disabilities. To date, minimal research related to preference and reinforcer assessments has been conducted with the elderly population with cognitive impairment. This study assessed the predictive validity of engagement- and selection-based preference assessment formats with two types of reinforcer assessments. One of these reinforcer assessments was engagement-based, and the other one included a task. The participants were three elderly individuals at an adult day program with a formal diagnosis of Dementia and a score less than 24 on the MMSE. The first participant's top items in the each preference assessment were validated in both reinforcer assessments. The second participant's top items from the free operant and MSWO were validated with the engagement-based reinforcer assessment, but the other assessment produced variable responding. The third participant's top items were validated in three out of four reinforcer assessments. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for preference and reinforcer assessments and their utility with the population of elderly adults with cognitive impairments.

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