A COMPONENT ANALYSIS OF “STEREOTYPY AS REINFORCEMENT” FOR ALTERNATIVE BEHAVIOR

Authors


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

Abstract

Results from several studies have suggested that the opportunity to engage in stereotypic behavior may function as reinforcement for alternative, more socially desirable behaviors. However, the procedural components of this intervention include several distinct operations whose effects have not been analyzed separately. While measuring the occurrence of stereotypy and an alternative behavior (manipulation of leisure materials), we exposed 3 participants to three or four components of a “stereotypy as reinforcement” contingency: (a) continuous access to materials, (b) prompts to manipulate materials, (c) restricted access to stereotypy (i.e., response blocking), and (d) access to stereotypy contingent on manipulating the materials. Continuous access to materials and prompting (a and b) produced negligible results. Restriction of stereotypy (c) produced a large increase in the alternative behavior of 2 participants, suggesting that response restriction per se may occasion alternative behavior. However, contingent access to stereotypy (d) was necessary to increase the 3rd participant's object manipulation; Final acceptance this finding provided some support for the use of stereotypy as reinforcement for alternative behavior. Finally, when transfer of the effects of intervention was assessed during periods in which active intervention components were withdrawn, the alternative behavior was maintained for 1 participant.

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