Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Stephanie Peterson

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard Malott

Third Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Baker

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jim Carr


Establishing conditioned reinforcers, Discriminative Stimulus (SD) Procedure, translational research, developmental disabilities, psychology, behavioral sciences


A common characteristic of individuals with developmental disabilities is a restricted range of interest. Developing procedures to establish new reinforcers for such individuals can promote the acquisition of new skills and ameliorate decreases in motivation related to satiation. Several procedures for conditioning reinforcers have shown to be effective in the research literature for establishing neutral stimuli as conditioned reinforcers. Most of this literature is basic research with animal subjects (e.g., rats, pigeons). Few applied studies have directly evaluated the use of these procedures. Additional research is necessary to determine their effectiveness. The purposes of this study were to: (a) evaluate two SD procedure arrangements in the establishment of discriminative stimuli while adding an intermittency of reinforcement component, (b) and evaluate the reinforcing effects of newly established discriminative stimuli when made contingent upon a response for three adults with developmental disabilities. A concurrent operants model of the SD procedure was effective for all participants in establishing a neutral stimulus as a discriminative stimulus. In addition, using a multiple baseline across participants within-subject design, the newly conditioned stimulus was successfully used to reinforce and maintain responding for only one out of three participants.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Psychology Commons