The use of a negative reinforcement procedure to increase the performance of autistic and mentally retarded children on discrimination training tasks

Richard Foxx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Because some mentally retarded and autistic children are unresponsive to positive events such as edibles and praise, their performance during educational activities is often sporadic. Such children are often labelled as being noncompliant or difficult to motivate. A negative reinforcement procedure plus edibles and praise was compared with edibles and praise alone as a method of increasing correct responding on discrimination tasks by four such children. In both conditions, a child was given an edible and praise when the correct response occurred within 2 s of a therapist's verbal prompt. The aversive stimulus used in the negative reinforcement procedure consisted of guiding the child through the correct response 20 times when no response occured with 2 s. The negative reinforcement procedure plus edibles and praise produced about 90% correct responding for all the children, while edibles and praise alone were much less effective. The use of a negative reinforcement procedure with noncompliant or difficult to motivate behaviorally disordered children appears to be an effective method of increasing their instruction-following.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-265
Number of pages13
JournalAnalysis and Intervention In Developmental Disablities
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1984


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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