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Keywords:

  • behavioral skills training;
  • feedback;
  • organizational behavior management;
  • preference assessments;
  • staff training

Performance feedback has facilitated the acquisition and maintenance of a wide range of behaviors (e.g., health-care routines, seat-belt use). Most researchers have attributed the effectiveness of performance feedback to (a) its discriminative functions, (b) its reinforcing functions, or (c) the combination of the two. In this study, we attempted to evaluate the relative contributions of the discriminative and reinforcing functions of performance feedback by comparing a condition in which the discriminative functions were maximized and the reinforcing functions were minimized (i.e., performance-specific instructions without contingent money) with one in which the reinforcing functions were maximized and the discriminative functions were minimized (i.e., contingent money with no performance-specific instructions). We compared the effects of these two conditions on the acquisition of skills involved in conducting two commonly used preference assessments. Results showed that acquisition of these skills occurred primarily in the condition with performance-specific instruction without contingent money, suggesting that the delivery of performance-specific instructions was critical to skill acquisition, whereas the delivery of contingent money had little effect.