Competing stimulus assessments: A systematic review

Jennifer N. Haddock, Louis P. Hagopian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current review summarizes the literature on competing stimulus assessments (CSAs). CSAs are pretreatment assessments designed to systematically identify stimuli that reduce problem behavior (PB), ostensibly through reinforcer competition or substitution. We report on the participant characteristics, outcomes, and predictive validity of published CSAs that included (a) no-stimulus control trial(s), (b) test trials during which each stimulus was available singly and noncontingently, and (c) measurement of PB and stimulus engagement or contact. Results showed that CSAs have broad utility across a variety of topographies and functions of PB. In the majority of CSA applications for which extended analyses, or validations, were performed, stimuli shown to reduce PB during the CSA produced similar reductions during extended analysis. This was the case regardless of topography or function of PB, or whether the stimuli were assumed to be “matched” to the stimulation thought to be produced by PB. Implications for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • competing stimuli
  • competing stimulus assessments
  • problem behavior
  • review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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