Operant discrimination training to establish praise as a reinforcer

Ashley M. Lugo, Therese L. Mathews, Melissa L. King, John C. Lamphere, Ana M. Damme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Social deficits are a hallmark feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Consequently, socially mediated consequences (i.e., praise) may not function as reinforcers for individuals with ASD. Given the frequency in which praise is used as a programmed consequence in empirical research and in clinical practice, it is necessary to explore procedures that could condition praise to function as reinforcers. Operant discrimination training has emerged as a potential procedure to condition stimuli to acquire reinforcing properties. This study aimed to utilize the operant discrimination training procedure to condition a praise statement to function as a reinforcer. Four children diagnosed with ASD participated in the study. A nonconcurrent multiple baseline design across participants was used to evaluate this emerging pairing procedure. Findings suggest that immediate effects were observed across all participants, but responding did not maintain, suggesting that reinforcing value of the praise statement diminished.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-356
Number of pages16
JournalBehavioral Interventions
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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