Behavior Analysis in Practice

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 617–621 | Cite as

An Empirical Evaluation of the Disequilibrium Model to Increase Independent Seatwork for an Individual Diagnosed with Autism

  • Art DowdyEmail author
  • Kenneth W. Jacobs
Brief Practice


This brief practice is an evaluation of work output predicted by Timberlake’s (1980) disequilibrium model. Jacobs, Morford, King, and Hayes (2017) provided a downloadable, online tool using the disequilibrium model to assist practitioners in maximizing intervention outcomes. The disequilibrium model was used to predict the duration of independent seatwork for Marvin, a 17-year-old boy diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The disequilibrium model effectively predicted a work duration that Marvin was compliant with throughout the study. Practitioners should consider using the disequilibrium tool to select intervention parameters.


Disequilibrium model Contingent activity Compliance Response deprivation Autism 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Art Dowdy declares he has no conflict of interest. Kenneth Jacobs declares he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in the study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Bullock, C. E., Fisher, W. W., & Hagopian, L. P. (2017). Description and validation of a computerized behavioral data program: “BDataPro”. Behavior Analyst, 40(1), 275–285. Scholar
  2. Farmer-Dougan, V., Langley, M. D., Gavin, J., & Berenbaum, A. (2017). Disequilibrium as an alternative to internal states and affordance. Behavior Analyst, 40(1), 83–93. Scholar
  3. Heth, C. D., & Warren, A. (1978). Response deprivation and response satiation as determinants of instrumental performance: some data and theory. Animal Learning & Behavior, 6(3), 294–300. Scholar
  4. Jacobs, K. W., Morford, Z. H., King, J. E., & Hayes, L. J. (2017). Predicting the effects of interventions: a tutorial on the disequilibrium model. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 10(2), 195–208. Scholar
  5. Konarski, E. A., Crowell, C. R., Johnson, M. R., & Whitman, T. L. (1982). Response deprivation, reinforcement, and instrumental academic performance in an EMR classroom. Behavior Therapy, 13(1), 94–102. Scholar
  6. Konarski, E. A., Johnson, M. R., Crowell, C. R., & Whitman, T. L. (1981). An alternative approach to reinforcement for applied researchers: response deprivation. Behavior Therapy, 12(5), 653–666. Scholar
  7. Timberlake, W. (1980). A molar equilibrium theory of learned performance. Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 14, 1–58. Scholar
  8. Timberlake, W., & Allison, J. (1974). Response deprivation: an empirical approach to instrumental performance. Psychological Review, 81(2), 146–164. Scholar
  9. Timberlake, W., & Farmer-Dougan, V. A. (1991). Reinforcement in applied settings: figuring out ahead of time what will work. Psychological Bulletin, 110(3), 379–391. Scholar

Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Teaching and LearningTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychology/296University of NevadaRenoUSA

Personalised recommendations