Empirically derived consequences: A data-based method for prescribing treatments for destructive behavior

Wayne Fisher, Cathleen C. Piazza, Lynn G. Bowman, Louis P. Hagopian, Nancy A. Langdon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Behavioral treatments are often prescribed on the basis of a functional assessment. However, in a significant number of cases, functional assessment results are equivocal or suggest that internal stimuli are maintaining the behavior. In this investigation, we evaluated an alternative data-based assessment that may be useful in such cases. This assessment was used to identify reinforcers and punishers based on the reinforcement assessment procedure described by Pace, Ivancic, Edwards, Iwata, and Page (1985). We then assessed whether empirically derived reinforcers and punishers could be combined to treat the destructive behaviors of two clients. For both clients, the rates of destructive behavior decreased markedly. The results suggest that empirically derived consequences may be useful in decreasing destructive behavior when a functional assessment is inconclusive or is consistent with the hypothesis that the behavior is stereotypic and maintained by internal stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-149
Number of pages17
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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