Assessment of preference for varied versus constant reinforcers

Lynn G. Bowman, Cathleen C. Piazza, Wayne W. Fisher, Louis P. Hagopian, Jeffrey S. Kogan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


One method that has been demonstrated to improve the effectiveness of reinforcement is stimulus (reinforcer) variation (Egel, 1980). Egel found that bar pressing increased and responding occurred more rapidly during varied reinforcement than during constant reinforcement when identical stimuli were used across phases for 10 individuals with autism. The purpose of the current investigation was to assess the preferences of 7 individuals for varied presentation of slightly lower quality stimuli relative to constant access to the highest quality stimulus. Varied presentation was preferred over constant reinforcer presentation with 4 participants, and the opposite was true for 2 participants. One participant did not demonstrate a preference. These results suggest that stimulus variation may allow less preferred reinforcers to compete effectively with a more highly preferred reinforcer for some individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-458
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997


  • Concurrent operants
  • Paired choice
  • Reinforcer assessment
  • Stimulus variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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