A brief method for conducting a negative-reinforcement assessment

Jennifer R. Zarcone, Kimberly Crosland, Wayne W. Fisher, April S. Worsdell, Kelly Herman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


A brief negative-reinforcement assessment was conducted with developmentally disabled children with severe destructive behavior. Five children were trained to engage in a simple escape response (e.g., a hand clap). Then each child was presented with a variety of stimuli or tasks that ranged on a scale from preferred to nonpreferred, based on parent ranking. The participant received a brief break from the stimuli or task, contingent on each escape response. For one child, an avoidance contingency was also implemented in which he could engage in the response to avoid the presentation of stimuli. Results showed that for each child, several stimuli were identified that may serve as effective negative reinforcers. Results also indicated that the procedure did not elicit any negative side effects for four children and low rates of destructive behavior for the fifth child. For one child, the results of the negative-reinforcement assessment were used to develop an effective treatment for destructive behavior. Additional applications of the reinforcement assessment to treatment interventions is discussed, as well as limitations to the procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-124
Number of pages18
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'A brief method for conducting a negative-reinforcement assessment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this