Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Instr and Curr Leadership


Special Education

Committee Chair

Neal Miller

Committee Member

James Meindl

Committee Member

Laura Casey Casey

Committee Member

Luann Ley Davis


The possibility of using a delayed consequence has great potential for parents, educators, and behavior analysts who are looking for effective methods to reduce problem behavior. In some situations, it may be difficult or even impossible for caregivers to administer timeout immediately following an instance of problem behavior due to practical constraints (e.g., being in a public place or not having sufficient staffing). In such cases, a delayed timeout procedure could have some advantages. If effective in reducing behavior, delayed timeout would add an important option to the arsenal of professionals tasked with addressing these challenges, particularly in settings where other behavior reduction strategies are not possible. One issue that is raised by delayed consequences is the possibility that rather than reducing the intended behavior, it will unintentionally affect other behaviors that occur in closer temporal contiguity to the consequence. For instance, if a child engages in aggression and is put in timeout 10 minutes later, one might be concerned that instead of reducing the likelihood of aggression, you are influencing whatever behaviors were occurring when the timeout was eventually implemented. It is possible that one effect of adding a rule is to clarify the contingency, and thus reduce the likelihood of unintended side effects to a delayed consequence such as timeout. Although little published research has addressed this possibility, preliminary research has suggested this may be the case. Research has yet to explicitly examine the question of how to arrange timeout to optimize its efficiency and effectiveness when the immediate delivery of consequences is prohibited. This study will focus on the effects of delayed timeout, delayed timeout with a rule, and immediate timeout on an arbitrary behavior of adults. An analog situation will allow the researchers to control the relevant variables more precisely than would be possible in an applied setting, and the use of an arbitrary response in lieu of challenging behavior will reduce the risk involved. This way of studying delayed consequences is consistent with prior research on the topic, and is intended to extend the current scientific knowledge about how this type of learning occurs. The effects of the procedures on the target behavior differed across participants, though in general the delayed time-out plus rule appeared to be the most effective of the three. The implications of these results were discussed along with directions for future research on the topic.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

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