Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Corey S. Stocco

First Committee Member

Matthew Normand

Second Committee Member

Kevin Luczynski


Although lying is a major concern for many caregivers (Alwin, 1989; Gervais et al., 2000), there is little behavior analytic research on effective, practical interventions. Studies have shown that a moral story, instruction, or rule implying praise for honesty produced statistically significant improvements in children admitting a transgression (Lee et al., 2014; Talwar et al., 2015; Talwar et al., 2016). Although praise has been shown to function as a reinforcer (Dozier et al., 2012; Hall et al., 1968; Polick et al., 2012), it is unknown if an intervention package including praise for telling the truth would compete with reinforcement contingencies for lying. We evaluated an intervention package comprised of this moral story, instruction, and rule in combination with praising honest reports when reinforcement favored lying. We identified and used each participant’s preferred topography of praise using a multiple-stimulus without replacement preference assessment (MSWO; Deleon & Iwata, 1996). No or minimal increase in honest reports was observed following the praise-based intervention. However, reinforcement of correspondence produced a complete increase in honest reports when staggered across participants using a multiple baseline design.





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