Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Behavioral Analysis

First Advisor

David A. Wilder

Second Advisor

Christopher Podlesnik

Third Advisor

Felipa Chavez

Fourth Advisor

Mary Beth Kenkel


A stimulus becomes a conditioned reinforcer when it acquires reinforcing properties by virtue of being paired with a primary reinforcer. Researchers have evaluated different methods to condition reinforcers for children diagnosed with autism because this population often does not respond to social reinforcers in the way their typically developing peers do. One method of establishing a conditioned reinforcer is the conditioned reinforcement of a discriminative stimulus (SD) procedure. The discrimination training procedure involves a neutral stimulus being established as an SD by reinforcing a specific response in its presence. Then, the established SD is tested as a conditioned reinforcer by delivering a primary reinforcer contingent upon a response and comparing responding before and after discrimination training. The purpose of the current study was to (1) replicate the Taylor-Santa et al. (2014) study by evaluating discrimination training to establish conditioned reinforcers under a more controlled setting, (2) extend the Taylor et al. study by interspersing the SD and S-Delta to identify a more efficient procedure, and (3) assess the extent to which discrimination training booster sessions increases or maintains the strength of a conditioned reinforcer. Overall, results indicated discrimination training was not an effective procedure for all three participants. KEYWORDS: autism, conditioned reinforcers, discrimination training, pairing


Copyright held by author.