Preference for and reinforcing efficacy of different types of attention in preschool children
Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis
It is unknown whether and to what extent common types of attention delivered in early childhood environments are preferred by and function as reinforcers for young children. We assessed children's preference for commonly delivered types of attention across 31 preschool-aged participants (Experiment 1). Next, we conducted a reinforcer assessment (Experiment 2) and a progressive-ratio assessment (Experiment 3) to (a) validate the results of the preference assessment and (b) determine the relative reinforcing efficacy of each type of attention. Results of Experiment 1 showed that most participants preferred conversation or physical interaction. Results of Experiment 2 validated the results of Experiment 1 showing preferred types of attention were more likely to function as reinforcers. Finally, although some types of attention functioned as reinforcers, results of Experiment 3 indicated these reinforcers only maintained responding under relatively dense schedules of reinforcement. Clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed.
Link to Published Version
Harper, A. M., Dozier, C. L., Briggs, A. M., Villegas, S. D., Ackerlund Brandt, J. A., & Jowett Hirst, E. S. (2021). Preference for and reinforcing efficacy of different types of attention in preschool children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 54(3), 882–902. https://doi.org/10.1002/jaba.814