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How to Conduct a Multiple-Stimulus Preference Assessment

By Cassie Herman
May 27, 2020
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By Master Trainer Cassie Herman

There are several different types of preference assessment.  In previous behavioral briefs, we reviewed a Free Operant Observation Preference Assessment and a Paired-Stimulus Preference Assessment.  This Behavioral Brief will focus on Multiple-Stimulus Preference Assessment (MS). 

There are two different types of Multiple-Stimulus Preference Assessments:
  • Multiple-Stimulus with Replacement
  • Multiple-Stimulus without Replacement (MSWO)

Both assessments will be discussed within this Behavioral Brief.

A Multiple-Stimulus without Replacement Preference Assessment is similar to a Paired-Stimulus. This is because they both identify high-preference, moderate-preference, and low-preferred items.  The data is displayed in a hierarchy.  This assessment can be completed in less time than both Pair-Stimulus and Free Operant Preference assessment.

The limitation of the Multiple-Stimulus assessment is that the individuals must have strong scanning repertoire due to an array of 5 to 7 items being presented (DeLeon & Iwata, 1996). If the individual does not have a strong scanning repertoire then the Free Operant, Single-Stimulus or a Paired-Stimulus should be conducted.

Watch the Behavioral Brief


Identifying a high-preferred reinforcer is a crucial component in the creation of a behavior change program.  Stay tuned for our 3rd installment on Stimulus Preference Assessments.  In this behavioral brief we will be discussing Multiple-Stimulus Preference Assessments!

Visit our YouTube page to find more Behavioral Briefs: Making Reinforcement Effective and Debriefing with the Individual Following Behavioral Escalation.

You might also enjoy some of our behavioral blog posts: Performance Issues: “Can’t do” versus “Won’t do” and Escape Maintained Challenging Behavior.

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