Date of Defense

4-18-2014

Date of Graduation

4-2014

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Jessica Frieder

Second Advisor

Sean Field

Third Advisor

Mindy Newhouse

Abstract

Behavioral momentum theory was applied to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that have displayed a tendency to be distracted in an early intervention environment where competing, potentially distracting, stimuli naturally occur. A multiple schedule (MULT) of reinforcement, with its two components being variable interval (VI) 4-s and VI 20-s schedules, was used to investigate the potential effects of competing stimuli on response rate. Each component VI schedule was signaled by a predetermined color set. Color sets were counterbalanced across participants. There were four experimental conditions: Pre-baseline and Baseline occurred in the absence of reinforcement, and Treatment Condition 1 and Treatment Condition 2 occurred in the presence of edible reinforcers and praise being delivered under MULT VI 4-s VI 20-s component schedules. Competing audio stimuli approximating the naturally occurring sounds of an early intervention environment were present during Baseline and Treatment Condition 2. This allowed an analysis of 1) what effect component schedules of reinforcement have on response rate, 2) what effect competing stimuli have on response rate in the absence of reinforcement, and 3) what effect competing stimuli have on response rate under a higher rate of reinforcement and under a lower rate of reinforcement.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted

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