Behavioral Variability: Does it matter and how can I increase it?

We are very excited to have Dr Clodagh Murray BCBA-D, facilitate this event, which promises to be highly informative and relevant to clinical practice. Clodagh has recently taken up a position as Assistant Professor at Emirates College for Advanced Education and was formerly with the National University of Ireland Galway.

Book Here

Monday 7th October 19:00 to 20:00

Number of Type 2 CEU’s: 1

This is an online event. A link to the online meeting room will be sent to the email address you provide.

Variability has been shown to be an operant dimension of behaviour. Decades of lab-based research has demonstrated that variability is sensitive to contingencies of reinforcement, magnitude of reinforcement, discriminative stimuli and extinction. In this session we will discuss the importance of variability with a focus on individuals with autism. We will discuss the utility of variability-reinforcing schedules and how these may remediate restrictive and repetitive behavior patterns.

Learning Objectives for participants:

  1. Participants will read at least two of the five assigned readings 
  2. Participants will be asked to participate in a facilitated discussion with a focus on 
  3.  The importance of variability as a dimension of behaviour How schedules can be used to increase variability How we can program for varied responding early on (train loosely, reinforce all novel behaviours etc) Increasing variability across multiple repertoires and the long-term benefit of this, particularly for those on the autism spectrum.

Description of type 2 CEU Event:

There is an emerging literature base describing interventions for increasing behavioural variability in applied settings. The strategies derived from many years of basic research have been shown to be of particular utility for individuals with ASD. This event will discuss a set of papers that identify the implications of low variability in this population, highlight a set of remediation strategies, mainly the use of lag schedules of reinforcement and how these can be used in applied settings both formally and informally.

 This discussion group aims to; 

  1. Increase knowledge of behavioral variability and its importance to autism intervention
  2. Identify how variability can be increased in applied settings, both in formal programmes and incidental teaching

Each participant will be asked to come prepared to discuss the implications of the assigned readings to clinical practice. All participants will read the Mullins, M., & Rincover, A. (1985) article, full reference below.


Heldt, J., & Schlinger, H. D. (2012). Increased variability in tacting under a lag 3 schedule of reinforcement. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 28(1), 131-136.

Mullins, M., & Rincover, A. (1985). Comparing autistic and normal children along the dimensions of reinforcement maximization, stimulus sampling, and responsiveness to extinction. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 40(2), 350-374.
This is required reading for the event

Rodriguez, N. M., & Thompson, R. H. (2015). Behavioral variability and autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 48(1), 167-187.

Susa, C., & Schlinger, H. D. (2012). Using a lag schedule to increase variability of verbal responding in an individual with autism. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 28(1), 125-130.

Weiss, A., & Neuringer, A. (2012). Reinforced variability enhances object exploration in shy and bold rats. Physiology & behavior, 107(3), 451-457.

Attendance Procedure: Sign in and Sign out with active participant responding and a feedback questionnaire.
Total Event Fee per participant:  €5 to MBAF members, €15 to non-members.

Event is designed for: BCBA-D, BCBAs, BCaBAs

Event Level: Intermediate / advanced (BCBA / BCBA-D & BCaBA)