This study addressed the relative effects of repeated exposures to an austere institutional dayroom, a toy enriched dayroom, a PUSH (Play Units for the Severely Handicapped) room that contained automated stimulation devices within a physical terrain, and a modular room that contained wall mounted automated stimulation devices, on the adaptive and maladaptive freeplay behavior of six groups of institutionalized mentally retarded individuals (N = 6 per group). Group One was observed in all four settings, whereas the other five were observed in two or more of the active settings. The results indicated that (1) there were only slight differences in object‐directed adaptive behavior when the three active settings were compared to the austere setting, and (2) only the higher functioning subjects (Group Five) displayed consistent individual differences on any of the measures when active settings were compared. None of the comparisons, however, revealed statistically significant effects. This study clearly demonstrates the need for active control conditions, raises questions regarding the relevance of much of the previous research, and suggests that further refinements will be necessary before environments such as those in the present study produce meaningful changes in appropriate environmental interaction in the absence of staff mediation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Clinical Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Psychiatry and Mental health