The use of symmetrical "do" and "don't" requests to interrupt ongoing activities

John D. Adelinis, Louis P. Hagopian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The results of a modified functional analysis demonstrated that aggression, displayed by a 27-year-old man, was occasioned by the use of "don't" requests to interrupt the client's ongoing and often inappropriate activities (e.g., lying on the floor, pica, inappropriate touching of others). Subsequent analyses demonstrated that aggression was lower when ongoing activities were interrupted with symmetrical "do" requests than with "don't" requests. An intervention utilizing symmetrical "do" requests (i.e., prompting an individual to engage in an incompatible behavior) to interrupt such activities resulted in reduced levels of aggression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-523
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999


  • Aggression
  • Symmetrical "do" and "don't" requests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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