Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School


Committee Member

Michelle R. Byrd, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Renee Lajiness-O’Neill, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Pamela A. Lemerand, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas A. Schmitt, Ph.D.


Problem behavior is extremely common throughout childhood, and time-out (TO) is one of the most common disciplinary tactics used by parents to address problem behavior. However, despite the prevalence of use and five decades of research demonstrating the efficacy of time-out, parents rate time-out as one of the least useful behavior modification techniques. This discrepancy between parental opinion and empirical data may be due to the fact that all research conducted thus far has used adults highly trained in empirically-supported time-out procedures. No research has examined the degree of similarity between time-out conducted by untrained parents to empirically-supported time-out procedures. Fifty-five mothers were asked to define time-out and to provide information on how they conduct time-out. In addition, videotaped vignettes were used to determine the extent to which mothers could identify errors in time-out procedures and whether that ability was related to child problem behavior. Results indicate that participants’ conceptualizations of TO differed considerably from the empirical rationale for TO. Relatively few participants reported adhering to or could identify the majority of parameters that have been shown to make TO effective. No significant relationships between TO accuracy and levels of child problem behavior were found. However, mothers who use TO procedures that are closer to the empirical ideal and who find TO to be more effective report using TO to punish a greater number of child problem behaviors.