Evaluating the predictive validity of a single stimulus engagement preference assessment

Louis P Hagopian, Karena S. Rush, Adam B. Lewin, Ethan S. Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Most preference assessments require individuals to choose among two or more stimuli. More recently, the duration of engagement with items has been used as an index of preference. In the current study, the predictive validity of a single stimulus engagement (SSE) preference assessment was evaluated with 4 individuals. Stimuli were presented singly for a brief period while engagement with that stimulus was recorded. Although SSE preference rankings closely matched paired stimulus preference assessment rankings for only 2 of the 4 participants, relative preference rankings based on duration of engagement predicted relative reinforcer effectiveness for all participants in a subsequent concurrent-schedule reinforcer assessment. The SSE procedure took less time to administer than the paired stimulus procedure but produced less stable preference rankings across administrations. The SSE procedure may be appropriate for individuals who have difficulty selecting one stimulus from among two or more stimuli, and it may be well suited for evaluating activities that are difficult to present in a paired stimulus format.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-485
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Behavior Analysis
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2001



  • Preference assessment
  • Reinforcer assessment
  • Stimulus engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Clinical Psychology

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