Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. R. Wayne Fuqua

Second Advisor

Dr. Alan Poling

Third Advisor

Dr. Howard Farris

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The use of nonaversive or aversive procedures continues to be debated regarding treatment of behavior problems of persons with developmental disabilities. This study compared the efficacy of a punishment and a nonaversive procedure in the reduction of problem behavior. The nonaversive technique involved the teaching of alternative, functionally equivalent, responses. Timeout was employed as the punishment procedure. The functional equivalence training included a functional analysis to identify the motivating conditions for the disruptive behavior of three boys with severe mental retardation. Treatment conditions were evaluated on rate of disruption, effects on learning trials, and time engaged in training. Results indicate functional equivalence training reduced disruptive behavior for all subjects; however, for two of the three subjects, timeout was more effective in the reduction of disruptive behavior. When provided a choice, two subjects demonstrated a preference for a communication condition in which a functional equivalent response was reinforced, relative to the alternatives of timeout or baseline condition.