Journal of Behavioral Education

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 121–137

Contingency and choice: The implications of matching theory for classroom instruction

  • Brian K. Martens

DOI: 10.1007/BF00947116

Cite this article as:
Martens, B.K. J Behav Educ (1992) 2: 121. doi:10.1007/BF00947116


This paper describes a mathematical account of behavior known as matching theory. Matching theory evolved out of basic operant research and assumes that individuals can engage in a variety of behaviors at any moment, but they choose one to the exclusion of others. According to the matching equation, choices in behavior match the relative amount of reinforcement provided for each alternative. Although the principles of matching theory have proven useful in developing novel treatment strategies, few data exist validating the matching equation in natural human environments. Recent applications of matching theory to children's classroom behavior are described, and the implications of matching theory for classroom management and effective teaching are discussed.

Key words

matching theory classroom behavior effective teaching 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian K. Martens
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and School of EducationSyracuse UniversityNew York
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySyracuse UniversitySyracuse

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