Comparisons of synthesized and individual reinforcement contingencies during functional analysis

Wayne W. Fisher, Brian D. Greer, Patrick W. Romani, Amanda N. Zangrillo, Todd M. Owen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Researchers typically modify individual functional analysis (FA) conditions after results are inconclusive (Hanley, Iwata, & McCord, 2003). Hanley, Jin, Vanselow, and Hanratty (2014) introduced a marked departure from this practice, using an interview-informed synthesized contingency analysis (IISCA). In the test condition, they delivered multiple contingencies simultaneously (e.g., attention and escape) after each occurrence of problem behavior; in the control condition, they delivered those same reinforcers noncontingently and continuously. In the current investigation, we compared the results of the IISCA with a more traditional FA in which we evaluated each putative reinforcer individually. Four of 5 participants displayed destructive behavior that was sensitive to the individual contingencies evaluated in the traditional FA. By contrast, none of the participants showed a response pattern consistent with the assumption of the IISCA. We discuss the implications of these findings on the development of accurate and efficient functional analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)596-616
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • assessment of problem behavior
  • false-positive outcome
  • functional analysis
  • independent effects
  • interaction effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Applied Psychology


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