Matching analysis of socially appropriate and destructive behavior in developmental disabilities

John Hoch, Frank J Symons

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7 Scopus citations


This study examined socially appropriate and destructive behavior in unconstrained natural environments using a matching law analysis (MLA) of real time observational data. The participants were two school-age children and one adult with mild to moderate cognitive disabilities. Event lagged sequential analysis (SQA) provided the obtained rates of staff attention to socially appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, which were then used in the matching law equations. For one participant the matching analysis showed a high (72%) variance-accounted-for (VAF) in behavior allocation in response to attention. For a second participant, matching analysis conducted on behavior allocation in response to staff attention showed lower (50%) VAF by staff attention. In the third case, the MLA also showed high (94%) VAF by attention. Suggestions for future extensions of matching analysis to clinically significant behavior and the limitations of the MLA for evaluating functional relationships in natural environments are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-248
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was completed in partial fulfillment of an MA thesis project by the first author. Portions of this study were presented at the Annual Gatlinburg Conference on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, March 2004, Annapolis, MD. This research was supported, in part, by NIH Grant No. 35682 to the University of Minnesota and a McKnight Land-Grant Professorship to Frank Symons.


  • Descriptive analysis
  • Lag sequential analysis
  • Matching law
  • Sequential analysis


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