An evaluation of the effects of matched stimuli on behaviors maintained by automatic reinforcement

Cathleen C. Piazza, John D. Adelinis, Gregory P. Hanley, Han Leong Goh, Michael D. Delia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

136 Scopus citations


The purpose of the current investigation was to extend the literature on matched stimuli to three dissimilar forms of aberrant behavior (dangerous climbing and jumping, saliva manipulation, and hand mouthing). The results of functional analyses suggested that each behavior was automatically reinforced. Preference assessments were used to identify two classes of stimuli: items that matched the hypothesized sensory consequences of aberrant behavior (matched stimuli) and items that produced sensory consequences that were not similar to those produced by the aberrant behavior (unmatched stimuli). The effects of providing continuous and noncontingent access to either the most highly preferred matched or the most highly preferred unmatched stimuli were assessed relative to a condition in which no stimuli were available. Overall results suggested that providing access to items that matched the hypothesized sensory consequences of aberrant behavior may be more effective than simply selecting stimuli either arbitrarily or based on the results of preference assessments alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-27
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000



  • Automatic reinforcement
  • Functional analysis
  • Preference assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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