Effects of the High-Probability Request Procedure: Patterns of Responding to Low-Probability Requests

Jennifer J. McComas, David P. Wacker, Linda J. Cooper, Stephanie Peck, Zbigniew Golonka, Thomas Millard, David Richman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The effects of high probability (high-p) requests on compliance with low-probability (low-p) responses have received increasing attention in investigations aimed at increasing compliance. Differential effects of high-p treatments and at least three distinct patterns of responding to low-p requests have been presented in recent literature. We present a series of case studies with three children who had developmental disabilities and who displayed severe noncompliance. The effects of high-p treatments across several topographies of behavior in a variety of settings are representative of the three patterns presented in recent literature. In Pattern 1, increased compliance to low-p requests was most likely when compliance with high-p requests immediately preceded the low-p requests. In Pattern 2, compliance with low-p requests initially occurred differentially immediately following compliance with high-p requests, but across sessions these effects were sustained in the absence of the high-p requests. In Pattern 3, compliance with high-p requests did not result in compliance with subsequent low-p requests and compliance to high-p requests also decreased across sessions. This paper provides case illustrations of these patterns, a discussion of hypotheses regarding the basis for these differential effects, and implications for future analyses involving high-p procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-171
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Portions of this study were funded by a National Institute for Research in Developmental Disabilities Grant (Wacker and Berg, 1991). The authors express their appreciation to the children and families who participated in this project, to Janet Drew, Kimberly Brown, and Hannah Hoch for their assistance in data calculation and graphing, and to Agnes DeRaad for her editorial expertise.


  • Behavioral momentum
  • Behavioral pediatrics
  • High-probability requests
  • Noncompliance
  • Stimulus control


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