Document Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2013

Capstone Advisor

Brian Martens, Ph.D.

Honors Reader

Tanya Eckert, Ph.D.

Capstone Major


Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

Child Psychology | Psychology


Data collected from descriptive assessments of children’s behavior and caregiver responses can be summarized according to matching theory, which states that relative rates of responding match relative rates of reinforcement. The extent to which matching applies to descriptive assessment data can be evaluated by application of the generalized matching equation (GME). However, three limitations exist in previous applications of the GME: (a) the most appropriate method of aggregating the data is unclear, (b) consequences must be manipulated in order to determine reinforcement, and (c) individual differences in sensitivity can influence the results. This Capstone project addressed those three issues by comparing the results of a descriptive assessment and an experimental analysis for two children. The results showed that aggregating data into 2.5 min bins prior to applying the GME provided the closest approximation to matching under experimental conditions. Furthermore, the descriptive data were more variable than the experimental data. Lastly, the results of this study support use of the GME to detect individual differences in matching.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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