Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Applied Behavior Analysis

Major Professor

Jennifer Austin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Trevor Stokes, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Maria dePerczel Goodwin, Ph.D.


maintaining variables, social anxiety, elementary school students, school refusal, social interaction


The purpose of this study was to establish a functional analysis protocol for examining behavioral deficits, using social withdrawal as an exemplar. A review of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis over the past 10 years found that although the current behavior analytic literature contains extensive studies that functionally analyze behavioral excesses, there is a limited amount of studies that analyze deficits. The rationale behind this study was the notion that although behavioral deficits are rarely studied, the fact that the participant is capable of the behavior yet fails to engage in it leads to the idea that certain events are functionally maintaining this failure. The method used involved examining two male students identified as socially withdrawn. The approach for functionally analyzing their behavior(s) was based on the conditions described in Iwata et al. (1982/1994). Specifically this study had the following conditions attention, demand/escape, and unstructured play, otherwise known as the control condition. The procedures of this study were predicated on the hypothesis that behavioral deficits respond to social contingencies in a manner similar to many behavioral excesses. Based on the findings of this study, the deficit collectively referred to as "social withdrawal" was responsive to such contingencies. Specifically, social withdrawal appeared to be maintained by adult attention for both participants.