Graduation Date

Spring 5-8-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Medical Sciences Interdepartmental Area

First Advisor

Kathryn M. Peterson


To date, there is no research on the measurement or evaluation of indices of happiness and unhappiness for children receiving behavior-analytic treatment for feeding disorders. The purpose of the current study was to measure child indices of happiness and unhappiness before and during extinction-based treatment and to evaluate the effects of noncontingent reinforcement with extinction-based treatment on indices of happiness and unhappiness. Overall, indices of happiness were idiosyncratic, and indices of unhappiness were initially higher during extinction without noncontingent reinforcement compared to with noncontingent reinforcement. Percentage of acceptance increased for all participants during both treatments, and caregiver treatment acceptability was high overall. Results provided preliminary evidence that noncontingent reinforcement could serve to mitigate indices of unhappiness during the initial implementation of extinction-based treatment, but caregiver preference for minimal treatment components may supersede these temporary benefits. The implications of these findings on clinical practice and future research are discussed.