Two individuals with developmental disabilities were observed to engage in destructive behavior when demands were presented, suggesting that the behaviors were maintained by negative reinforcement. Subsequent analyses revealed that (i) the behavior problems persisted when the participants were asked to cease a high-probability, ongoing activity (walking) while demands were not presented and (ii) problem behaviors ceased when the participants were trained to request access to walking through appropriate means. These findings suggested that the presentation of demands, per se, was not the critical variable in maintaining destructive behavior. Rather, it appeared that restricting the participants from walking, which was only coincidentally necessary in the initiation of demands, set the occasion for the aberrant responses. Subsequent analyses were conducted with one participant to further strengthen this hypothesis. These findings are discussed in terms of the utility of seeking out idiosyncratic and individualized behavioral functions subsequent to initial assessments and their contribution to the growing body of literature regarding the complex interactions of destructive behavior and other naturally occurring high-rate behaviors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Psychology