Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Catia Cividini-Motta, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Committee Member

Hannah MacNaul, Ph.D., BCBA-S, LBA, LSSP

Committee Member

Kwang-Sun Blair, Ph.D., BCBA-D


autism, over time, reinforcer assessment, social interaction, stability


Social stimuli are some of the most commonly used reinforcers in clinical programming(Graff & Karsten, 2012) and previous research shows that preference for social stimuli can be identified using variations of a paired stimulus preference assessment (PSPA; Fisher et al., 1992). Previous studies evaluating preference for social stimuli have employed video stimuli (Wolfe et al., 2018), pictures of the actual social stimuli (Kelly et al., 2014), and pictures of arbitrary shapes (Morris & Vollmer, 2019). To date, no study has evaluated the correspondence in preference for social stimuli across these three stimulus modes. Therefore, the purposes of this study were to compare the correspondence in preference hierarchy identified via a PSPA across these three stimulus modes, assess whether preference corresponds to reinforcing properties, and whether preference is stable over time (i.e., 1 month). Additionally, to determine the efficiency of these preference assessments, data were also collected on duration of time needed for material preparation and administration across stimulus modes and social validity was assessed via a concurrent-chain preference assessment. One participant, Ivy, was included in this study. Ivy is a 12-year-old girl with ASD and obsessive-compulsive disorder and communicates with an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device. Results demonstrated that the video stimulus mode produced the most stable results but took the longest amount of time to create materials and administer the assessments and the participant demonstrated preference for the pictorial stimulus mode 2- arbitrary shapes.