The quality / power of reinforcement can be determined with a reinforcer assessment. A variety of direct, data-based methods are used to present one or more stimuli contingent on a target response and then measuring the future effects on the rate of responding.
- Concurrent schedule of reinforcer assessment: pits two stimuli against each other to see which will produce the larger increase in responding when presented as a consequence for responding. The more effective reinforcer is the one that has more responses.
- Multiple schedule reinforcer assessment: reinforcers are delivered for the same behavior, on the same schedule but at different times; an SD is present to signal which schedule is in effect. The more effective reinforcer is the one associated with the session with the highest rate of behavior.
- Progressive schedule: response requirements for reinforcement are increased systematically independent of responding. The practitioner gradually requires more responses to receive reinforcement until a breaking point is reached and responding declines. A progressive ratio increases the behavior that must be emitted before receiving reinforcement. The reinforcers that produce the most behavior are considered the most reinforcing.