College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

The Effects of Constant versus Varied Reinforcers on Preference and Resistance to Change

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-2010

Keywords

Behavioral Momentum; Resistance to Change; Preference; Varied Vs Constant Reinforcers; Boys with Autism

Publication Title

Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior

ISSN

0022-5002

Volume

93

Issue/No.

3

Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated that factors such as reinforcer frequency, amount, and delay have similar effects on resistance to change and preference. In the present study, 4 boys with autism made choices between a constant reinforcer (one that was the same food item every trial) and a varied food reinforcer (one that varied randomly between three possible food items). For all 4 boys, varied reinforcers were preferred over constant reinforcers, and they maintained higher response rates than constant reinforcers. In addition, when a distraction (a video clip) was introduced, responding maintained by varied reinforcers was more resistant to distraction than responding maintained by constant reinforcers. Thus, the present experiment extended the generality of the relation between preference and resistance to change to variation in reinforcer quality.

DOI

10.1901/jeab.2010.93-385