ANALYSIS OF ACTIVITY PREFERENCES AS A FUNCTION OF DIFFERENTIAL CONSEQUENCES

Authors


Psychology Department, The University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611

Abstract

Individuals who do not possess the verbal skills to express meaningful choice in the absence of its consequences may have difficulty indicating their preference for protracted activities that are unavailable until some time in the future (e.g., taking a walk, riding a bike). When we examined the preferences of 4 individuals with developmental disabilities by showing them pictorial representations of various activities, their initial choices showed no clear preferences. In a subsequent condition, selecting a photograph resulted in brief access to the depicted activity. When selections produced differential consequences (i.e., access to the activity), clear preferences emerged. In addition, 3 individuals' preferences were later shifted to an initially less preferred but more socially desirable option by superimposing additional reinforcement contingencies for engaging in the less preferred activity. Results are discussed in terms of the conditions under which choice functions as an indicator of preference and how those conditions may be altered to improve the quality of choice making without limiting access to preferred options.

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