Progressing from initially ambiguous functional analyses: Three case examples

Jeffrey H. Tiger, Wayne W. Fisher, Karen A. Toussaint, Tiffany Kodak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Most often functional analyses are initiated using a standard set of test conditions, similar to those described by Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, and Richman [Iwata, B. A., Dorsey, M. F., Slifer, K. J., Bauman, K. E., & Richman, G. S. (1994). Toward a functional analysis of self-injury. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27, 197-209 (Reprinted from Analysis and Intervention in Developmental Disabilities, 2, 3-20, 1982)]. These test conditions involve the careful manipulation of motivating operations, discriminative stimuli, and reinforcement contingencies to determine the events related to the occurrence and maintenance of problem behavior. Some individuals display problem behavior that is occasioned and reinforced by idiosyncratic or otherwise unique combinations of environmental antecedents and consequences of behavior, which are unlikely to be detected using these standard assessment conditions. For these individuals, modifications to the standard test conditions or the inclusion of novel test conditions may result in clearer assessment outcomes. The current study provides three case examples of individuals whose functional analyses were initially undifferentiated; however, modifications to the standard conditions resulted in the identification of behavioral functions and the implementation of effective function-based treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)910-926
Number of pages17
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Aggression
  • Autism
  • Functional analysis
  • Methodology
  • Motivating operations
  • Negative reinforcement
  • Peer attention
  • Siblings
  • Social escape

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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