Chata Dickson, Assistant Director of Research, ACE® Department (right), and collaborators Rachel Farber, a former NECC teacher, and Bill Dube, PhD, Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, published “Reducing overselective stimulus Dickson Headshot_FullSizeRendercontrol with differential observing responses.” The article was published in the most recent volume of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.


Overselective stimulus control refers to discriminative control in which the number of controlling stimuli is too limited for effective behavior. Experiment 1 included 22 special-education students who exhibited overselective stimulus control on a two-sample delayed matching task. An intervention added a compound identity matching opportunity within the sample observation period of the matching trials. The compound matching functioned as a differential observing response (DOR) in that high accuracy verified observation and discrimination of both sample stimuli. Nineteen participants learned to perform the DOR and two-sample delayed matching accuracy increased substantially for 16 of them. When the DOR was completely withdrawn after 10 sessions, accuracy declined. In Experiment 2, a more gradual withdrawal of DOR requirements showed that highly accurate performance could be maintained with the DOR on only a proportion of trials for most participants. The results show that DOR training may lead to a general improvement in observing behavior.

The full abstract is online at  Staff can access the full article in the Journal in the Research Library onsite at NECC.