Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Applied Behavior Analysis

Major Professor

Pamela G. Osnes, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Glen Dunlap, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Iser G. DeLeon, Ph.D.


stimulus, activities, non-tangible, reinforcer identification, happiness, engagement


Much research has focused on the development of methods of measuring preference for stimuli. These methods have shown to be an accurate and valid way to identify potential reinforcers. However, these methods have only been conducted with tangible stimuli and have not been extended to non-tangible stimuli or activities, potentially because these types of stimuli are not appropriate for current preference assessment presentation methodologies. This study used a single stimulus presentation preference assessment to identify preferred activities for two adults with developmental disabilities. Two measures (duration of engagement and indices of happiness) were collected to identify preferred stimuli. For both participants, there were differences in happiness measure between activities. The engagement measure only produced differentiated results for one participant.

Reinforcer assessments were conducted to determine if the measures of preference were able to identify high preference stimuli that functioned as more effective reinforcers more than stimuli identified as low preference. Both participants exhibited high rates of an arbitrary response during all conditions of the reinforcer assessment. Therefore, the reinforcer assessments did not validate the results of the preference assessments.