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Keywords:

  • functional analysis;
  • problem behavior;
  • sequence effects;
  • establishing operations;
  • multielement design

Abstract

It has been suggested that a fixed condition sequence might facilitate differential responding during multielement functional analyses (FAs) by capitalizing on or limiting sequence effects (Iwata, Pace, et al., 1994); however, the effects of condition sequence have not been examined empirically. We conducted fixed- and random-sequence FAs for 7 individuals with developmental disabilities to determine the relative effects that sequence may have on assessment outcomes. Experimental conditions during the fixed sequence were conducted in the following order: ignore, attention, play, and demand; condition order during the random sequence was determined randomly. Results showed that sequence had no influence on the FA outcomes for 3 subjects, whereas differential responding emerged either faster (1 subject) or only (3 subjects) under the fixed sequence for the remaining subjects. These results suggest that the fixed sequence, a simple modification, should be used when conducting multielement FAs to accommodate the influence of establishing operations across assessment conditions.