Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Behavioral Analysis

First Advisor

David A. Wilder

Second Advisor

Jonathan K. Fernand

Third Advisor

Patrick J. Aragon

Fourth Advisor

Robert A. Taylor


Basic research has established that immediate reinforcement produces the best outcome when learning a skill. More recent research has followed, showing that even 8-10 seconds of brief delays may impair learning. In one of the few applied studies on this topic, Majdalany et al. (2016) showed that participants with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) acquired tacts more quickly with immediate reinforcement, compared to delays of 6s and 12s. However, no research has examined variable delays to reinforcement, which may be more common in classrooms and clinics. Thus, the purpose of the proposed study was to expand previous research by examining variable delays to reinforcement on the acquisition of tacts. Specifically, three conditions were compared: a 0s delay, a 4-8s delay and a 10-14s delay. Two of the three participants achieved the mastery criterion most quickly in the 0s delay condition. The results and implications of this finding are discussed.