• descriptive analysis;
  • preschool;
  • problem behavior;
  • reinforcement contingencies

In recent years, functional analysis methods have been extended to classroom settings; however, research has not evaluated the extent to which consequences presented during functional analysis are associated with problem behavior under naturalistic classroom conditions. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine whether the social consequences commonly manipulated in functional analyses occur in typical preschool classrooms. A total of 14 children attending preschool programs participated in the study. Data were collected on the occurrence of antecedent events (e.g., presentation of tasks), child behaviors (e.g., aggression), and teacher responses (e.g., delivery of attention). The probability of various teacher responses given child behavior was then calculated and compared to the response-independent probabilities of teacher responses. Attention was found to be the most common classroom consequence (100% of children), followed by material presentation (79% of children), and escape from instructional tasks (33% of children). Comparisons of conditional and response-independent probabilities showed that the probability of teacher attention increased given the occurrence of problem behavior for all children, suggesting that a contingency existed between these two events. Results suggest that functional analyses that test the effects of attention, escape, and access to materials on problem behavior may be appropriate for preschool settings.