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Keywords:

  • developmental disabilities;
  • differential reinforcement of other behavior;
  • negative side effects;
  • preference;
  • reinforcement;
  • self-injurious behavior

In the current investigation, a modification was made to the preference assessment described by Pace, Ivancic, Edwards, Iwata, and Page (1985) to predict the effects of stimuli when used in a differential-reinforcement-of-other-behavior (DRO) schedule for 2 clients with severe self-injurious behavior (SIB) and profound mental retardation. Based on the results of the preference assessment, three types of stimuli were identified: (a) high-preference stimuli associated with high rates of SIB (HP/HS), (b) high-preference stimuli associated with relatively lower rates of SIB (HP/LS), and (c) low-preference stimuli associated with low rates of SIB (LP/LS). Consistent with the results of the preference assessment, the DRO schedule with HP/HS stimuli resulted in increased SIB, and the DRO schedule with LP/LS stimuli resulted in no changes in SIB. HP/LS stimuli were demonstrated reinforcers but did not result in a change in SIB when used in a DRO schedule. Thus, the stimulus preference assessment may be useful clinically in some situations for predicting both the beneficial and the negative side effects of stimuli in DRO procedures.