Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Symposium #201
CE Offered: BACB
Evaluations of Interventions for Problem Behavior Using Contingent and Noncontingent Reinforcement
Sunday, May 27, 2012
2:00 PM–3:20 PM
LL05 (TCC)
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Sarah E. Bloom (Utah State University)
Discussant: Anibal Gutierrez (University of Miami)
CE Instructor: Sarah E. Bloom, Ph.D.

Differential reinforcement of an alternative response and noncontingent reinforcement are commonly used interventions for problem behavior, but how they interact when used together, and how they may best be used is still being evaluated. This symposium features current research on the effects of contingent and noncontingent reinforcement on problem behavior. The first presentation examines an approach to minimize extinction bursts during alternative response identification by reinforcing all topographies of appropriate behavior and by including noncontingent reinforcement during extinction of problem behavior. The second presentation evaluates the effect of noncontingent reinforcement on persistence of human behavior (arbitrary and problem) when extinction and extinction plus differential reinforcement of an alternative response are used. The third presentation compares the fading a token production schedule to a token exchange schedule when tokens are included in a differential reinforcement procedure for problem behavior. A discussant will highlight the important features of these three presentations, which have implications for how noncontingent reinforcement and/or differential reinforcement of an alternative response may be used in problem behavior reduction interventions.

Keyword(s): differential reinforcement, extinction, non-contingent reinforcement, problem behavior

Further Evaluation of Extinction-Induced Variability in the Treatment of Problem Behavior

ALYSSA MARTIN (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Jennifer N. Y. Fritz (University of Houston-Clear Lake)

Differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) is a common intervention for problem behavior in which reinforcement is delivered for an appropriate behavior. Most research has focused on teaching a new response rather than selecting a behavior that already exists in the individuals repertoire. However, Grow, Kelley, Roane, and Shillingsburg (2008) used extinction to occasion alternative responses and reinforced the first appropriate behavior that emerged under a DRA arrangement, but extinction bursts were observed in nearly all cases. The purpose of this study was to evaluate strategies for minimizing extinction bursts by (a) providing reinforcement for all appropriate behavior that emerged during extinction and (b) thinning a schedule of noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) plus DRA. Extinction bursts were eliminated with NCR thinning plus DRA during extinction of problem behavior, and appropriate behavior emerged and maintained.

The Effects of Non-Contingent Reinforcement on the Persistence/Resurgence of Behavior: Applications of Behavioral Momentum Theory
JOSEPH MICHAEL LAMBERT (Utah State University), Sarah E. Bloom (Utah State University), Elizabeth Dayton (Utah State University), Soraya Shanun Kunnavatana (Utah State University), Andrew Samaha (Utah State University)
Abstract: Non-contingent reinforcement (NCR) can reduce rates of problem behavior but may also increase the persistence, and the magnitude of the resurgence, of said behavior. We designed a multiple schedule to evaluate the effect of NCR on the persistence of human behavior when extinction, and extinction plus the differential reinforcement of an alternative response (DRA), were used as disruptors. Study 1 targeted arbitrary responses (i.e., “spot-touching” and “block-in-bowl”) emitted by two adult subjects diagnosed with a developmental disability. Study 2 targeted the aggression (i.e., “grabbing”) of a third adult subject referred to a university-based consulting agency that specialized in the reduction of problem behavior. Results from both studies demonstrated that NCR increased the persistence of targeted responses for all three subjects when extinction was used as a disruptor and increased the persistence of only one subject when DRA was paired with extinction. When the alternative response was placed on extinction two of the three subject’s targeted responses resurged. The magnitude of the resurgence was differentially higher in the NCR component for one subject. These results suggest that NCR may have unintended effects on the persistence and resurgence of socially relevant problem behavior. Implications and future directions will be discussed.
Comparison of Two Methods for Fading Token Schedules
Megan A. Boyle (Utah State University), ANDREW SAMAHA (Utah State University), Elizabeth Dayton (Utah State University), Sarah E. Bloom (Utah State University)
Abstract: Token reinforcement systems are widely used in instructional and behavior management systems. However, few studies have examined methods for thinning token reinforcement systems. This study compares two methods: fading the token production schedule by gradually increasing the number of responses required to earn a token, and fading the token exchange schedule by gradually increasing the number of token required to earn a backup reinforcer, in the context of an intervention to decrease problem behavior consisting of differential reinforcement of alternative behavior. Data from two subjects suggests both methods result in similar amounts of backup reinforcers being earned and problem behavior as the schedules were thinned. Future research and implications for treatment are discussed.



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