Effects of conversational versus technical language on treatment preference and integrity

David P. Jarmolowicz, Sung Woo Kahng, Einar T. Ingvarsson, Richard Goysovich, Rebecca Heggemeyer, Meagan K. Gregory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Problem behaviors present a significant challenge for individuals with developmental disabilities and their caregivers. Interventions based on behavioral principles are effective in treating problem behaviors; however, some caregivers have difficulty adhering to treatment recommendations. Treatment adherence may be affected by the technical nature of behavioral terminology. Research suggests that caregivers better understand and are more comfortable with interventions described in conversational language; however, the effects of technical language on treatment implementation are unknown. In the current investigation, implementation of a behavioral treatment was monitored after caregivers were given either a technical or conversational description of the intervention. Implementation was more accurate when the treatment description was written in conversational language, suggesting that clinicians should write behavioral plans in conversational language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-199
Number of pages10
JournalIntellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Community and Home Care
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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