Date of Award

5-1-2012

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Behavior Analysis and Therapy

First Advisor

Dixon, Mark

Abstract

Choice overload is characterized by individuals experiencing a decrease in preference strength and satisfaction (Chemey, 2003) in conjunction with increases in disappointment and regret regarding a chosen option (Schwartz, 2000). Choice overload has been examined in a variety of situations, however choice overload has not been examined with individuals with developmental disabilities or during stimulus preference assessments. While extensive research has been conducted regarding stimulus preference assessments, no research has been conducted evaluating the most effective number of items to use during preference assessments. The purpose of the present study was to compare using six and 18 item arrays during a multiple stimulus without replacement preference assessment, to evaluate the accuracy of both procedures with a reinforcer assessment, and to evaluate the behavior of participants for characteristics of choice overload during the preference and reinforcer assessments. The results of the present study suggest that the results between the six and 18 item preference assessments are strongly consistent; however the six item assessments overestimated the reinforcer efficacy of numerous items in comparison to the 18 item preference assessment. The results also suggest that two participants displayed characteristics associated with choice overload and that a certain level of cognitive functioning may be required for choice overload to occur.

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