Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Paul T. Mountjoy

Second Advisor

Dr. Dale M. Brethower

Third Advisor

Dr. R. Wayne Fuqua

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Edward L. Trembley


Behavioral research which has focused on improving employee behavior in business and human service organizations has pointed to an increasing need to develop simple, effective management tools which will maintain appropriate behavior changes. The purpose of the present study was to explore the controlling relationship between behavior and variables previously cited in the literature, and to develop a procedure to increase and maintain the amount of time which employees in a mental health center spent on priority activities defined by management.

Eleven male and female employees in four programs of a mental health center were exposed to conditions in which priorities, descriptive and evaluative performance information, and contingent access to activities were varied to assess their effects on the amount of time which subjects spent in direct client services and on agency priorities. Component analysis was conducted within a multiple baseline across subjects design in order to determine experimental control and to parcel out effects of elements of the contingencies. Measurement reliability, inter-observer reliability, and social validity measures were obtained and found to be adequate.

The introduction of priorities alone produced significant improvements in the level of performance, but behavior was variable and effects were generally transient. Descriptive performance information, in combination with priorities, generally maintained or reestablished previous performance levels, but did not dramatically impact on the variability of behavior. When contingent activities were introduced in combination with the previous procedures, few gains in performance were observed. The combination of priorities and evaluative performance information was effective in maintaining high levels of compliance with agency mandates and scheduled direct service time, and reduced the variability of behavior within and across weeks.

Findings were discussed in terms of principles of behavior and processes involved in the development and maintenance of rule-governed behavior. Limitations of the study were reviewed, and implications for future research were discussed. It was concluded that the field of behavior analysis must expand and integrate procedures and data from other fields of inquiry in order to ensure that all variables which impact on behavior are considered when attempts to determine functional relations are made.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access