Evaluation of a brief stimulus preference assessment

J Appl Behav Anal. Winter 1998;31(4):605-20. doi: 10.1901/jaba.1998.31-605.


We evaluated the utility of a brief (5-min) stimulus preference assessment for individuals with developmental disabilities. Participants had noncontingent (free) access to an array of stimuli and could interact with any of the stimuli at any time. Stimuli were never withdrawn or withheld from the participants during a 5-min session. In Experiment 1, the brief preference assessment was conducted for 10 participants to identify differentially preferred stimuli, and reinforcer assessments were conducted to test the reinforcing efficacy of those stimuli identified as highly preferred. In Experiment 2, a comparison was conducted between the brief preference assessment and a commonly used paired-stimulus preference assessment. Collectively, results demonstrated that the brief preference assessment identified stimuli that functioned as reinforcers for a simple operant response, identified preferred stimuli that were differentially effective as reinforcers compared to nonpreferred stimuli, was associated with fewer problem behaviors, and required less time to complete than a commonly used paired-stimulus preference assessment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Operant*
  • Developmental Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology
  • Male
  • Reinforcement, Psychology