Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Behavioral Analysis

First Advisor

Rachael Tilka

Second Advisor

A. Celeste Harvey

Third Advisor

Vida L. Tyc

Fourth Advisor

Lisa Steelman


Research suggests that profession specific jargon can be perceived negatively by individuals outside of that profession perhaps due to a lack of understanding. Much of the current research has focused on the social validity of utilizing technical terminology with laypersons and has shown that overall there is a preference for nontechnical terminology according to public opinion. Yet, little research has been done in the area of parent training to assess the effects of jargon on more direct measures of performance such as a parent’s accuracy with implementing a treatment procedure. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to evaluate the comparative effects of jargon and non-jargon on the percentage of steps implemented correctly during a multiple stimulus without replacement (MSWO) preference assessment. Specifically, the first condition contained instructions written in technical behavior analytic jargon, and the second condition included instructions written in nontechnical language. Participants included three parents of children with autism in a hospital-based clinic. The results indicated that performance was high when instructions were provided in technical jargon and did not increase further once instructions were provided in nontechnical language. The implications of these findings for the parent training literature were also discussed.