Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. James E. Carr

Second Advisor

Dr. Linda LeBlanc

Third Advisor

Dr. Alan Poling

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jack Michael


The differential outcomes effect (DOE) refers to the phenomenon whereby discrimination learning is enhanced when a correct response to a specific sample stimulus is followed by its own unique reward (Savage, 2001). According to some researchers, the DOE is a consistent and powerful effect that enhances the acquisition and retention of conditional discriminations (e.g., Urcuioli, 1990). This series of experiments sought to extend research on the DOE. In Experiment 1, we examined the differential outcomes procedure (DOP) with four children diagnosed with autism across various task types commonly used in early intervention. In Experiment 2, we examined the DOP with three-choice conditional discrimination tasks. Based on phase means, in 7 out of 14 phases (3 in Experiment 1, 4 in Experiment 2), exemplars were acquired more quickly under the DOP. Although the aggregate data appear to be somewhat consistent with previous findings on the DOE, the question remains whether the current findings serve any practical value in the treatment of children with autism. The results are discussed in the context of the differences between the experiments and previous research that might have contributed to the discrepant findings.


5th Advisor: Dr. Carry L. Martin

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access