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Preliminary Effects of Conditioned Establishing Operations on Stereotypy

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We repeatedly paired preferred stimuli with known establishing properties and poster boards (i.e., neutral stimuli) to examine whether these poster boards would acquire the effects of a conditioned establishing operation in five children with autism. Following pairing, the poster boards, which had been previously shown to be neutral, increased immediate or subsequent engagement in stereotypy for three of five participants. The results suggest that it is possible to condition establishing operations for stereotypy and that this process may occur inadvertently. We discuss the potential clinical implications of the results, as well as the need for future research to replicate our findings.

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Author Note

Portions of this project were supported by a grant provided to the second and third authors by Autism Speaks #2852.

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Correspondence to Marc J. Lanovaz.

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Lanovaz, M.J., Rapp, J.T., Long, E.S. et al. Preliminary Effects of Conditioned Establishing Operations on Stereotypy. Psychol Rec 64, 209–216 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40732-014-0027-x

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  • Autism
  • Automatic reinforcement
  • Establishing operation
  • Conditioned motivating operation
  • Stereotypy