Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Christine Reeve

Committee Member

Susan Kabot

Committee Member

Kimberly Durham


applied behavior analysis, behavior contract, behavior disorders, child behavior, noncompliance, problem behavior


The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of using behavior contracts specifically targeting parental behavior and providing reinforcing consequences for the parent’s behavior on parental adherence in implementing behavior contracts to address their child’s behavior problems. Parents used identical procedures to implement behavior contracts with their children to address their child’s noncompliance and associated problem behavior. A secondary purpose of this study was to determine parent perceptions about the impact their use of behavior contracts had on the behavior of their children.

This study used a multiple baseline across participants design to measure the effectiveness of a behavior contract intervention on parental adherence. The multiple-baseline across-participants design enabled the investigator to examine the effects of using behavior contracts on parents’ behavior in implementing a similar intervention with their own child. The participants in this study were three parents referred to a behavior analysis agency owned by this researcher to obtain services for a child engaging in problem behaviors associated with noncompliance.

Overall, all of the participants maintained scores during the maintenance probe that were dramatically higher than those observed during the baseline phase. This means that, between 1 and 2 weeks after the intervention, all participants’ scores remained higher than they did before the intervention. All three participants received very similar scores on the maintenance probe to those observed during their last intervention session. Of the three participants, one participant’s score (Participant 1) decreased slightly from the last intervention session, one improved slightly (Participant 2), and one remained the same (Participant 3). This finding suggests short-term maintenance of behavioral gains.

In order to have parents maintain their adherence to the current intervention, participants identified reinforcers that they gave themselves on a daily basis when goals were met. This proved to be less successful than predicted. Without good procedures to maintain behavioral gains, these improvements may regress over time, negating the usefulness of an effective intervention. Future research might also look at the extent to which social reinforcers could help maintain behavioral gains. Because the present study did not correlate parent progress with outcome data for their child and did not monitor the behavior of the participants’ children, future studies could correlate the results of parent contracts with their child’s outcome data.