Graduation Date

Summer 8-9-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Medical Sciences Interdepartmental Area

First Advisor

Amanda Zangrillo

Second Advisor

Brian Greer

Third Advisor

Wayne Fisher

Fourth Advisor

Cathleen Piazza


Differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) is the most commonly used procedure to treat destructive behavior maintained by social-positive reinforcement (Petscher, Rey, & Bailey, 2009). Several studies have demonstrated that placing destructive behavior on extinction (EXT) during DRA is critical for the reduction of destructive behavior (Fisher et al., 1993; Hagopian, Fisher, Sullivan, Acquisto, & LeBlanc, 1998). Despite the empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of using EXT during DRA, the use of EXT has several limitations. These limitations have resulted in the development of DRA without EXT treatments, during which practitioners manipulate dimensions of reinforcement to favor appropriate responding. The systematic identification of reinforcer dimensions to which an individual’s behavior is sensitive for the purpose of informing subsequent DRA without EXT treatments is still relatively new. The purpose of this study was twofold. In Study 1, we developed a reinforcer dimension sensitivity assessment to identify parametric values of reinforcer dimensions to which a participant’s behavior was sensitive. We conducted Study 2 with participants whose behavior demonstrated sensitivity during the assessment. In Study 2 we conducted a validation analysis during which we implemented two DRA without EXT procedures to assess if the participants allocated responding towards the response that produced the optimal reinforcer parameter to which he demonstrated sensitivity during the reinforcer dimension sensitivity assessment.

Available for download on Wednesday, July 14, 2021