Distributed and accumulated reinforcement arrangements: Evaluations of efficacy and preference

Iser G. Deleon, Julie A. Chase, Michelle A. Frank-Crawford, Abbey B. Carreau-Webster, Mandy M. Triggs, Christopher E. Bullock, Heather K. Jennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


We assessed the efficacy of, and preference for, accumulated access to reinforcers, which allows uninterrupted engagement with the reinforcers but imposes an inherent delay required to first complete the task. Experiment 1 compared rates of task completion in 4 individuals who had been diagnosed with intellectual disabilities when reinforcement was distributed (i.e., 30-s access to the reinforcer delivered immediately after each response) and accumulated (i.e., 5-min access to the reinforcer after completion of multiple consecutive responses). Accumulated reinforcement produced response rates that equaled or exceeded rates during distributed reinforcement for 3 participants. Experiment 2 used a concurrent-chains schedule to examine preferences for each arrangement. All participants preferred delayed, accumulated access when the reinforcer was an activity. Three participants also preferred accumulated access to edible reinforcers. The collective results suggest that, despite the inherent delay, accumulated reinforcement is just as effective and is often preferred by learners over distributed reinforcement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-313
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014


  • accumulated reinforcement
  • choice
  • concurrent schedules
  • delay
  • distributed reinforcement
  • tokens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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