Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Instr and Curr Leadership


Special Education

Committee Chair

James N Meindl

Committee Member

Neal D Miller

Committee Member

Jeremy T Whitney

Committee Member

Laura B Casey


The effects of delay on subjective reward value is referred to as temporal or delay discounting, as the value of the reward is discounted as a result of a delay to the reward's presentation. One way to measure the subjective value of delayed rewards is by assessing choice. In examining temporal discounting, choice trials are presented between small immediate rewards and larger delayed rewards. Procedures that reverse choice responding from smaller immediate rewards to larger delayed rewards are important to teaching an organism to tolerate delayed reinforcement. Teaching children to make adaptive choices such as compliance, completing assigned tasks, and making functional requests involves teaching them to forgo engaging in behaviors that result in small sooner outcomes in favor of those resulting in larger later outcomes. Behavioral procedures to teach delay-to-reinforcement have produced positive outcomes but are not well established in the current body of literature. Thus, there are limited standardized procedures and treatment options available to teach children to choose delayed rewards. The purpose of this paper is two-fold. First, a literature review was conducted to identify teaching procedures that have been investigated to increase choice allocation to larger later rewards over smaller soon rewards and compare methods employed across studies. Second, a novel method to teach delay-to-reinforcement tolerance was investigated with six typically developing young children (ages 4 to 5-years). This novel method, called a shifting delay procedure, involved closely manipulating the amount of the larger delayed reward by splitting it into both an immediate and delayed portion, and then gradually shifting the immediate portion to the delayed portion. Two participants were not exposed to treatment as baseline patterns of choice responding indicated consistent choice allocation for larger delayed rewards. The remaining four participants were exposed to treatment. For two of the four participants, choice was shifted from the smaller sooner reward to the larger later reward. For the remaining two participants, treatment was ineffective in shifting choice allocation. These findings are discussed as well as suggestions for future research.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.