Using a choice assessment to predict reinforcer effectiveness

Cathleen C. Piazza, Wayne W. Fisher, Louis P. Hagopian, Lynn G. Bowman, Lisa Toole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


A choice assessment has been found to be a more accurate method of identifying preferences than is single-item presentation. However, it is not clear whether the effectiveness of reinforcement varies positively with the degree of preference (i.e., whether the relative preference based on the results of a choice assessment predicts relative reinforcer effectiveness). In the current study, we attempted to address this question by categorizing stimuli as high, middle, and low preference based on the results of a choice assessment, and then comparing the reinforcing effectiveness of these stimuli using a concurrent operants paradigm. High-preference stimuli consistently functioned as reinforcers for all 4 clients. Middle-preference stimuli functioned as reinforcers for 2 clients, but only when compared with low-preference stimuli. Low-preference stimuli did not function as reinforcers when compared to high- and middle-preference stimuli. These results suggest that a choice assessment can be used to predict the relative reinforcing value of various stimuli, which, in turn, may help to improve programs for clients with severe to profound disabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996


  • Assessment
  • Concurrent operants
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Predictive validity
  • Reinforcer preference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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