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Keywords:

  • functional analysis;
  • response class;
  • response class hierarchies;
  • covariation;
  • aberrant behavior;
  • extinction

A functional analysis identified the reinforcers for 3 participants' problem behavior, but only relatively mild problem behaviors (e.g., screaming, disruption) were observed when all topographies produced tested consequences. We then conducted an extinction analysis in which specific topographies produced a reinforcer while all other topographies were on extinction. The extinction analysis confirmed that the same reinforcer identified in the initial functional analysis maintained more severe topographies of problem behavior (e.g., aggression). In addition, results of the extinction analysis indicated that 2 of the participants displayed patterns of responding consistent with a response class hierarchy hypothesis, in which less severe problem behavior frequently occurred prior to more severe topographies. The 3rd participant displayed a response pattern indicative of differential reinforcement effects.