Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Special Education and Rehabilitation


Sarah E. Bloom


We used a combined multi-element, ABCBC reversal design to examine whether qualities of various negative reinforcers can be assessed under progressive-ratio schedules. Two adults with disabilities participated in this study. We assessed five sounds three times using progressive-ratio schedules to obtain mean break points for each stimulus and ranked negative reinforcers according to their mean break points. We called the stimulus with the highest mean break point the high-quality escape (HQE) stimulus and the stimulus with the lowest break point the low-quality escape (LQE) stimulus and examined responding according to different schedules of reinforcement for each stimulus: FR2, FR4, and FR8 for Jenny and FR1 and FR11 for April. We identified preferred and nonpreferred sounds for both participants.We observed differential responding for both participants between preferred and nonpreferred sounds. We observed differential responding between HQE and LQE stimuli for April but not for Jenny; a larger range in break points was observed for April. These results demonstrate a method to identify preferred and nonpreferred sounds and provide support for the possibility of using progressive-ratio schedules to rank negative reinforcers of various qualities.




This work made publicly available electronically on September 20, 2012.