Functional analysis of antecedent conditions: Assessing instructions and time-in as antecedents to compliance

Kimberly Kelshaw Levering


Research in the area of functional assessment/functional analysis has traditionally examined consequent variables. However, as early as 1953, Skinner highlighted a variety of antecedent variables likely to exert control over target behaviors. Although the majority of research in this area still examines consequences maintaining target behaviors, more researchers are beginning to focus their attention on antecedents occasioning behavior. This investigation examined the effects of two antecedent variables (instruction delivery and time-in) on levels of compliance using a multielement design with 4 children 4- to 7 years old. Conditions included either an effective or ineffective command and the presence or absence of time-in, resulting in four conditions (Effective Command/Time-In [EC/TI], Effective Command/No Time-In [EC/NO TI], Ineffective Ineffective Command/No Time-In [IC/NO TI]). All conditions for each participant were sequenced randomly across sessions without replacement and were 10 min in length. The goal of the study was to determine if the procedures could effectively identify the best combination of antecedent conditions that would lead to high levels of compliance for each participant. Effective instruction conditions (with and without Time-In) resulted in the highest mean levels of compliance across all participants. Implications for compliance training are discussed.