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J Appl Behav Anal. 1985 Fall;18(3):249-55.

Assessment of stimulus preference and reinforcer value with profoundly retarded individuals.


We evaluated a procedure for identifying potential reinforcers with profoundly retarded individuals. In Experiment 1, six persons were repeatedly exposed to 16 stimuli, and approach behaviors to each stimulus were used to identify preferred and nonpreferred stimuli. In Experiment 2, we examined the reinforcing properties of preferred and nonpreferred stimuli by delivering them contingently on the occurrence of arbitrarily selected responses. Results revealed that the preferred stimulus conditions typically produced higher rates of responding than did either the baseline or the nonpreferred stimulus conditions, suggesting that the procedure can be used to assess reinforcer value for individuals with limited behavioral repertoires.

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