Contingency and choice: The implications of matching theory for classroom instruction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This paper describes a mathematical account of behavior known as matching theory. Matching theory evolved out of basic operant research and assumes that individuals can engage in a variety of behaviors at any moment, but they choose one to the exclusion of others. According to the matching equation, choices in behavior match the relative amount of reinforcement provided for each alternative. Although the principles of matching theory have proven useful in developing novel treatment strategies, few data exist validating the matching equation in natural human environments. Recent applications of matching theory to children's classroom behavior are described, and the implications of matching theory for classroom management and effective teaching are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-137
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Behavioral Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1992


  • classroom behavior
  • effective teaching
  • matching theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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