Graduation Date

Summer 8-11-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Applied Behavior Analysis

First Advisor

Amanda Zangrillo


We evaluated two methods to increase the generality of functional communication training (FCT) by incorporating naturally occurring stimuli within a multiple schedule thinning arrangement. In the present study, we used a stimulus control transfer procedure to determine the degree to which discriminated responding can be transferred from arbitrary to naturally occurring stimuli while maintaining high levels of functional communication and low rates of destructive behavior. Following the acquisition of discriminative control in the presence of an arbitrary stimulus, we transferred discriminative properties to naturally occurring activities that signal the unavailability of reinforcement. We compared rates of acquisition of discriminated functional communication responses and rates of destructive behavior using the stimulus control transfer procedure to direct discrimination training of naturally occurring stimuli. Results of the evaluation support the efficacy of both teaching strategies; however, directly teaching discrimination resulted in higher levels of discriminated responding, lower rates of destructive behavior, and fewer sessions to reach mastery criteria relative to stimulus fading.


2023 Copyright, the authors

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