Comparison of traditional and trial-based methodologies for conducting functional analyses

Robert H. LaRue, Karen Lenard, Mary Jane Weiss, Meredith Bamond, Mark Palmieri, Michael E. Kelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Functional analysis represents a sophisticated and empirically supported functional assessment procedure. While these procedures have garnered considerable empirical support, they are often underused in clinical practice. Safety risks resulting from the evocation of maladaptive behavior and the length of time required to conduct functional analyses may deter practitioners from using models of assessment with considerable empirical support. The current study evaluated a trial-based model of functional analysis that limited opportunities to engage in problem behavior and used 1-2 min sessions to shorten analysis time. The results from the trial-based analysis were then compared to the results of traditional functional analyses. Correspondence between both models of assessment was strong. Exact correspondence was observed for 4 of the 5 participants. In addition, the trial-based procedure did not require the repeated reinforcement of maladaptive behavior and results were obtained in 84.8% less time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-487
Number of pages8
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


  • Autism
  • Brief functional analysis
  • Functional assessment
  • Maladaptive behavior


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