Psychological Reports, 1991, 68, 1235-1238

O Psychological Reports 1991


University of Central Arkansas ANN R. POINDEXTER

Conway Hzrman Development Center Summary.-The rating scale used to assess the motivators of maladaptive behaviors in persons with mental retardation was the Motivation Assessment Scale. In the current study, we validated the factor structure of the scale on a sample of 118 subjects with predominately severe or profound mental retardation. They extubited deviant behavion such as self-injurious and tantrum behavior, aggression, and passivity. The results of the factor analysis with varimax rotation validated the assumptions of the developers of the scale that the motivators could be grouped into sensory, escape, attention, and tangible reinforcers. These four subscales are easily interpretable and should continue to provide valuable information.

Many maladaptive behaviors displayed by persons with mental retardation often appear to be haphazard and without purpose. Nevertheless, these behaviors may have complex communicative and social functions (Durand & Crimrnins, 1988; LaVigna & Domellan, 1986; Talkington, H d ,& Altman, 1971). The determination of the underlying functions of deviant behavior constitutes a functional or pragmatic analysis, which asks, "In the present context, what does the person seem to be communicating, and how does the [person] do so?" (LaVigna & DonneNan, 1986, p. 26). Once this communication has been identified, persons with severe developmental disabilities can be taught more appropriate communicative behaviors (Carr & Durand, 1985; Durand, Crimmins, Caulfield, & Taylor, 1989). The functional contexts which maintain deviant behaviors may be uncovered through the manipulation of environmental events and the observation of subsequent behavioral changes (Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, & Richman, 1982), through staff interviews and data-keeping systems (Groden, 1989), and through rating scales (Durand & Crimmins, 1988). Given the serious nature of many maladaptive behaviors in persons with mental retardation, assessment devices for functional analysis are needed (Groden, 1989). The Motivation Assessment Scale (Durand & Crimmins, 1988) is a 16-item rating scale which assesses staff perceptions of the motivators of a

'This research was supported in part through a grant from the Univenity Research Council of the University of Central Arkansas. Reprints are available from Elson M. Bihm, Department of Psychology and Counseling, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR 72032.



specific maladaptive behavior (e.g., as a result of social isolation or increased task difficulty). Although the scale has been developed to assess self-injurious behavior, the authors suggest it might be applicable to a variety of behavior problems. The behavior is rated on a seven-point scale ranging from "never" to "always" by a person familiar with the client. Durand-and Crimmins (1788) have grouped the 16 items into four subscales of four items each. The subscales measure four reinforcers: sensory (e.g., "Would the behavior occur repeatedly, in the same way, for very long periods of time, if no one was around?"), escape ("Does the behavior occur when any request is made of the person?"), attention ("Does this person seem to d o the behavior to get you to spend time with h m or her?"), and tangible ("Does the behavior occur when you take away a favorite toy, food, or activity?"). The development of these four subscales by Durand and Crimmins (1988) was based upon a rational approach to scale construction. To our knowledge, the factor structure of the scale has never been validated through factor analysis, a procedure which may aid scale construction (Bihm & Poindexter, in press). I n the present study, we attempted to assess the factor structure of the scale for a group of persons with mental retardation. I n conducting the factor analysis, we endeavored to validare the assumptions of the test developers that behavior problems may be viewed as functions of social, escape, sensory, and tangible motivators. Further, we attempted to check the v&&ty of these classes of motivators for a variety of behavior problems, not just self-injurious behavior.

METHOD The 118 subjects were clients at a large state-operated intermediate care facility for the mentally retarded. The average age was 28.9 yr. (SD= 9.1). There were 87 persons with profound mental retardation, 28 persons with severe mental retardation, and three persons with moderate mental retardation. Of the 118 clients, 66 were men, eight had hearing impairment, 30 had vision impairment, 71 had epilepsy, 47 had cerebral palsy, 84 were ambulatory, and 11 had been prescribed antipsychotic medication. Test forms were mailed to supervisors of living units, who were instructed to have a staff person familiar with the client complete the survey. The person completing the survey was asked to write down the client's most significant behavioral problem, then to rate it. Then two independent judges categorized these behavior problems. The most common behavior problems were self-injurious behavior (16), aggression (15), tantrums (12), and passivity (12).

'A description of this scoring system is available from the first author.


RESULTSAND DISCUSSION The internal reliability of each Durand and Crimmins (1988) subscale was estimated by Cronbach alpha: Sensory .73 (Items 1, 5 , 9, 13), Escape .71 (Items 2, 6, 10, 14), Attention .69 (Items 3, 7, 11, 151, and Tangible .81 (Items 4, 8, 12, 16). Means and standard deviations of the sensory, escape, attention, and tangible subscales were 12.03 (6.83), 8.19 (5.65), 6.23 (4.83), and 7.73 (6.53), respectively. We analyzed the 16 items with the principal axis factoring program from SpSSX (SPSS, 1983). The four factors were sought. Squared multiple correlations were used for initial communality estimates, and these estimates were iterated. A varimax rotation was performed on the factors. The results of this factor analysis are listed in Table 1. The eigenvalues were for Factor 1 4.04, Factor 2 2.24, Factor 3 .99, and for Factor 4 .76. TABLE 1 ASSESSMENT SCALE* FACTORLOADINGS FORMOTNATION Item


SD 1

Factors 2 3


1. If left alone 2. Following request 3. Your talking to others 4. To get toy, food, activity 5. If no one was around 6. When request is made 7. When you stop attending 8. When you take away toy, food, activity 9. Person enjoys behavior 10. You try to get him (her) to do what you ask 11. To upset or annoy you when you do not attend 12. Stops when you give food, toy, activity 13. Calm and unaware of anything else 14. Stops after you stop demands 15. To get you to spend more time with him (her) 16. When told can't do something *The items have been shortened and reworded for this table (cf. Durand & Crimmins, 1988). Highest (italicized) factor loadings suggested new scale construction.

The four factors were essentially equivalent to the subscales proposed by Durand and Crimmins (1988). The only exceptions were for Items 7 and 10. Our factor analysis suggested that Item 7 ("Does the behavior occur whenever you stop attending to the person?"), which was originally an item on the Attention subscale, loaded more heavily on the Sensory subscale. Perhaps staff persons were interpreting this item as referring to self-reinforcement which may decrease when the client engages in a meaningful interaction. Item 10 ("Does this person seem to do the behavior to upset or



annoy you when you are trying to get him [her] to do what you ask?") was originally on the Escape subscale, but loaded more heavily on the Attention subscale. Perhaps staff persons perceived this as a request for social interaction and not as an attempt to escape from a demanding task. The administration of the scale in the present study differed in several ways from the administration described by Durand and Crimmins (1988). In the present research, we asked staff persons to provide their own categories of behavior and did not specify the settings in which they might occur. Durand and Crimmins (1988), however, provided their informants precise descriptions of the behaviors they were supposed to rate and the settings in which the behaviors were to be evaluated. Despite differences in methodology, our results essentially validated the original four-factor structure of the scale: sensory, escape, attention, and tangible motivators. This factor structure appears relevant to a variety of behavior problems, not just self-injurious behavior. However, despite the promise of this instrument, issues of reliability and validity require further study (Newsom, Hovanitz, & Rincover, 1988; Zarcone, Rodgers, & Iwata, 1990). At this time, combining- this scale with techniques such as direct observation, staff interviews, and experimental analysis appears warranted (Groden, 1989; Iwata, et al., 1982; Lennox & Miltenberger, 1989). REFERENCES BIHM, E. M., & POINDEXTER, A. R. (in press) Cross-validation of the factor structure of the Aberrant Behavior Checklist for persons with mental retardation. American Journal on Mentul Retardation. CARR, E. G . , & DURAND, V. M. (1985) Reducin communication problems through functional communication training. Journal of ~ p p l i e f~ehaviorAnalysis, 18, 11 1-126. DLJRAND, V. M., & CRIMMINS,D. B. (1988) Identifying the variables maintaining self-injurious behavior. Journal of Autism and Developmentul Disorders, 18, 1 9 - 117 DURAND, V. M., CRIMMINS, D. B., CAULFIELD,M., & TAYLOR, J. (1989) Reinforcer assessment: I. Using problem behavior to select reinforcers. Journal o/ the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 14, 113-126. GRODEN, G . (1989) A guide for conducting a comprehensive behavioral analysis of a target behavior. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 20, 163-169. IWATA,B. A., DORSEY,M. F., SLLFER,K. J., BAUMAN,K. E., & RICHMAN,G . S. (1982) Toward a functional analysis of self-iniurv Analysis and Intervention in Developmental Disabilities, 2, 3-20. LAVIGNA, G. W., & DONNELLAN, A. M. (1986) Alternatives to punishment: solving behavior problems with non-aversive strategies. New York: Irvingcon. LENNOX,D. B., & MILTEHBERGER, R. G . (19891 Conducting a hnctional assessment of problem behavior in applied settings. Journal of the Association for Persons with Seyere Handicaps, 14, 304-311. NEWSOM,C., HOVANITZ, C., & R ~ C O V E A. R . 11988) Autism. In E. J. Mash & L. G. Terdal (Eds.), Behavioral assessment of thrldhood disorders. New York: Guilford. Pp. 303-349. SPSS, INC.(1983) SPSY user'sguide. Chc.~go IL: SPSS, Inc. TNKINGTON, L. W., Hw, S., & ALTMAN, R (1971) Communicauon deficits and aggression in the mentally retarded. American jolrrnril of Mentnl Deficiency, 76, 235-237. ZARCONE, J. R., RODGERS, T. A,, & IWATA,B. A. (1990) Reliability analysis of the Motivation Assessment Scale. Paper presented at the Association for Behavior Analysis, Nashville, TN.

Accepted June 7, 1991.

Factor structure of the Motivation Assessment Scale for persons with mental retardation.

The rating scale used to assess the motivators of maladaptive behaviors in persons with mental retardation was the Motivation Assessment Scale. In the...
160KB Sizes 0 Downloads 0 Views