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Effects of Fixed Versus Random Sequencing During Multi-element Functional Analyses

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functional analysis; problem behavior; sequence effects; establishing operations; multielement design


Sarah E. Bloom, PhD, BCBA-D


It has been suggested that a fixed condition sequence might facilitate differential responding during multielement functional analyses (FAs) by capitalizing on or limiting sequence effects (Iwata, Pace, et al., 1994); however, the effects of condition sequence have not been examined empirically. We conducted fixed- and random-sequence FAs for 7 individuals with developmental disabilities to determine the relative effects that sequence may have on assessment outcomes. Experimental conditions during the fixed sequence were conducted in the following order: ignore, attention, play, and demand; condition order during the random sequence was determined randomly. Results showed that sequence had no influence on the FA outcomes for 3 subjects, whereas differential responding emerged either faster (1 subject) or only (3 subjects) under the fixed sequence for the remaining subjects. These results suggest that the fixed sequence, a simple modification, should be used when conducting multielement FAs to accommodate the influence of establishing operations across assessment conditions.


Hammond, J. L., Iwata, B. A., Rooker, G., ritz, J. N., & Bloom, S. E. (2013). Effects of fixed versus random sequencing during multielement functional analyses. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 46(1), 22-30.  doi:10.1002/jaba.7


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