Brian A. Iwata, Michael F. Dorsey, Keith J. Slifer, Kenneth E. Bauman, Gina S. Richman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1282 Scopus citations


This study describes the use of an operant methodology to assess functional relationships between self‐injury and specific environmental events. The self‐injurious behaviors of nine developmentally disabled subjects were observed during periods of brief, repeated exposure to a series of analogue conditions. Each condition differed along one or more of the following dimensions: (1) play materials (present vs absent), (2) experimenter demands (high vs low), and (3) social attention (absent vs noncontingent vs contingent). Results showed a great deal of both between and within‐subject variability. However, in six of the nine subjects, higher levels of self‐injury were consistently associated with a specific stimulus condition, suggesting that within‐subject variability was a function of distinct features of the social and/or physical environment. These data are discussed in light of previously suggested hypotheses for the motivation of self‐injury, with particular emphasis on their implications for the selection of suitable treatments. 1994 Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-209
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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