Conditioned Reinforcement in the Applied Animal Literature: A Meta-Analytic Review

  • Nicole Pfaller-Sadovsky (Presenter)
  • Lucia Medina (Contributor)
  • Daniela Cardillo (Contributor)
  • Susan Friedman PhD (Advisor)
  • Camilo Hurtado-Parrado PhD (Advisor)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Conditioned reinforcement occurs when a behavior is strengthened by postcedent events that have acquired reinforcing properties by prior pairing with other reinforcers (Cooper et al., 2007; Pierce & Cheney, 2017). This phenomenon was first described by Skinner (1938), and became popular among animal trainers during the 1980s, and its prominence continues today. Although the use of a conditioned reinforcer (e.g., clicker or whistle) is said to be highly effective in companion animal training, only a few studies support this statement. The current meta-analysis aimed at identifying variables that contribute to conditioned reinforcement’s effectiveness (or lack thereof), identifying variables that explain the variability in authors’ outcomes, and provide quantitative efficacy estimates (i.e., effect sizes). After conducting a systematic search of various databases (e.g., Web of Science), retrieved records were selected by using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA; Moher et al., 2009). Information about publication types, methods and species were extracted from 31 eligible studies. First results show that only 20% (n=6) of all records reported single-case research designs. This indicates a lack of, and great need for, behavior-analytic research of conditioned reinforcement in applied animal settings.
Period29 Sep 2019
Event title10th International Conference: Association for Behavior Analysis International Conference
Event typeConference
LocationStockholm, Sweden
Degree of RecognitionInternational