Functional analysis of inappropriate mealtime behaviors

Cathleen C. Piazza, Wayne W. Fisher, Kimberly A. Brown, Bridget A. Shore, Meeta R. Patel, Richard M. Katz, Bart M. Sevin, Charles S. Gulotta, Audrey Blakely-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

177 Scopus citations


The purpose of the current investigation was to apply the functional analysis described by Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, and Richman (1982/1994) to the inappropriate mealtime behaviors of 15 children who had been referred to an intensive program for the assessment and treatment of severe feeding disorders. During Study 1, we conducted descriptive assessments of children and parents during meals. The results of Study 1 showed that parents used the following consequences for inappropriate mealtime behaviors: coaxing and reprimanding, allowing the child to periodically take a break from or avoid eating, and giving the child preferred food or toys following inappropriate behavior. The effects of these consequences were tested systematically in Study 2 when we conducted analogue functional analyses with the children. During alternating meals, one of the consequences typically used by parents consistently followed inappropriate child behavior. Results indicated that these consequences actually worsened behavior for 10 of the 15 children (67%). These results suggested that the analogue functional analysis described by Iwata et al. may be useful in identifying the environmental events that play a role in feeding disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-204
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Descriptive assessment
  • Feeding disorders
  • Functional analysis
  • Negative reinforcement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Applied Psychology


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