The acceptability of behaviour management methods has become an important area of concern. However, most research has focused on behaviour support plans. This study evaluated the acceptability of a restrictive procedure used in dentistry: the hand over mouth technique. Two-hundred-and-eighteen members of the general public rated one of eight vignettes using the Treatment Evaluation Inventory. A 3-factor independent groups design evaluated the effects of child disability (average intelligence or moderate learning disability), intervention method (relaxation training and reinforcement or hand over mouth) and behavioural outcome (child became less distressed or child remained distressed). A significant main effect of treatment outcome was found, and effective treatments were rated as more acceptable than ineffective treatments. There was a marginal effect of treatment type, hand over mouth being rated as less acceptable than the use of reinforcement and relaxation. Where child behaviour problems are marked, the public's ratings of acceptability are largely influenced by the outcome of treatment.