The effects of reinforcement magnitude on functional analysis outcomes

Valerie M. Volkert, Dorothea C. Lerman, Christina Vorndran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The duration or magnitude of reinforcement has varied and often appears to have been selected arbitrarily in functional analysis research. Few studies have evaluated the effects of reinforcement magnitude on problem behavior, even though basic findings indicate that this parameter may affect response rates during functional analyses. In the current study, 6 children with autism or developmental disabilities who engaged in severe problem behavior were exposed to three separate functional analyses, each of which varied in reinforcement magnitude. Results of these functional analyses were compared to determine if a particular reinforcement magnitude was associated with the most conclusive outcomes. In most cases, the same conclusion about the functions of problem behavior was drawn regardless of the reinforcement magnitude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-162
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Functional analysis
  • Reinforcement magnitude

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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