High-probability request sequence

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"High-probability request sequence" is a term used to describe one of several strategies which are used by educators and others to promote and maintain appropriate behaviors in children and in adults with developmental disabilities.

A "high-probability request" is a request to which the learner complies willingly under most conditions. In contrast, a "low-probability request" is one that often results in a challenging or inappropriate behavior. The "high-probability request sequence" involves both kinds of requests.[1]

When using this strategy, an educator or parent first chooses a "target" behavior that is not usually performed when requested.[2] Then he or she quickly asks the learner to do several tasks that he or she normally does willingly (the "high-probability requests"), followed immediately by an instruction that's more difficult or less popular (the "low-probability request").[3][4] The learner is praised or rewarded after complying with each request.[1][2] The effectiveness of this approach in leading the learner to identify the target behavior with the previous behaviors, and thus perform it more readily when asked, has been the subject of a number of research studies listed below.


  1. ^ a b Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall.
  2. ^ a b Houlihan, D., Jacobson, L., & Brandon, P. K. (1994). Replication of a high-probability request sequence with varied interprompt times in a preschool setting. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27, 737- 738.
  3. ^ Santos, R. M. (2001). Using what children know to teach them something new: Applying high-probability procedures at home and in the preschool classroom. In Young Exceptional Children Monograph Series, 3. Teaching strategies: What to do to support young children's development. Longmont, CO: Sopris West.
  4. ^ Killu, K., Sainato, D. M., Davis, C. A., Ospelt, H., & Paul, J. N. (1998) Effects of high-probability request sequences on preschoolers' compliance and disruptive behavior. Journal of Behavioral Education, 8, 347-368.