Preference for Food and Non-food Items of Known Reinforcing Values in People with Developmental Disabilities
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When presenting reinforcers to individuals with developmental disabilities, many researchers use food. However, there may be other types of reinforcers which may be equally or more effective. Although preference assessment methods have been well-researched, one area that has not yet been resolved is whether food reinforcers are always more preferred than non-food reinforcers, when both are presented in the same assessment. This study compared preference for food and non-food items with similar and dissimilar reinforcing values in three people with developmental disabilities. The study first evaluated the reinforcing value of food and non-food items in an ABAB design. Selected food and non-food items with similar and dissimilar reinforcing values were presented in a subsequent paired-stimulus preference assessment. Results showed that when food and non-food items were of approximately equal reinforcing value, or when food was more reinforcing than the non-food items, food tended to be preferred. However, when non-food items were much more reinforcing than food items, non-food items tended to be preferred.
KeywordsDevelopmental disabilities Reinforcing value Stimulus category Stimulus preference assessment
This research was supported by the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship, offered through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, awarded to the first author. We thank the participants of this study and the staff of St.Amant and St.Amant Research Centre for their administrative support throughout the study.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from the guardian of all individual participants in the study.
Conflict of Interest
All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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