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Lecture Note For Chapter 5, come and see

by OC2

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Christian Campbell

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Chapter 5: Decreasing a Behavior with Extinction
Principle of Extinction states:
a) In a given situation, an individual emits a previously reinforced response and that response is not
followed by a reinforcing consequence then (b) that person is unlikely to do the same thing again when
he or she next encounters a similar situation
! If a response has been increased in frequency through positive reinforcement, then completely ceasing to
reinforce the response will cause it to decrease in frequency
! Not all pain behaviors are maintained by attention from others
! Very few of us are aware of how frequently we are influenced by extinction everyday of our lives
! It takes several repetitions of the behavior occurring and not being reinforced before there would be any
really obvious decrease in its frequency; nevertheless, the effects are still there; over a number of trials,
the behavior that no longer “pay off gradually decrease
! Not all behaviors are decreased by extinction; in some cases a punisher or reprimand or response-cost
punishment must be implemented
! Behavior can also decrease due to forgetting in which behavior is weakened as a function of time
following the last occurrence of the behavior
! Extinction differs from all these in that in extinction, behavior is weakened as a result of being emitted
without being reinforced
Factors Influencing the Effectiveness of Extinction
1) Controlling reinforcers for the behavior that is to be decreased
! Reinforcers presented by other people or by the physical environment can undo your good efforts at
applying extinction
! It is difficult to convince others of this if they are not familiar with the principles of positive
reinforcement and extinction
! Necessary to control the behavior of the individuals who might sabotage an extinction procedure or to
carry out the procedure in their absence
2) Extinction of a behavior combined with positive reinforcement for an alternative behavior
! Most effective combination; combo of two procedures probably decrease the frequency of the undesirable
behavior much faster and (possibly to a lower level) than would have been the case had extinction
procedure been used alone
! To extinguish child’s inappropriate crying with positive reinforcement for a desirable behavior
o Begin with short intervals of desirable behavior and gradually increase them to longer, more
manageable intervals
o It is important that the increase in requirement be very gradual otherwise the undesirable behaviors will
not decrease very rapidly
o Care must be taken not to present the reinforcer immediately after the crying ceases, as this would tend
to reinforce the crying thereby increasing rather than reducing it
! Important during application of extinction to ensure that the reinforcers that you are withholding are the
ones that are actually maintaining the undesirable behavior- failure to do this would not meet the
definition of extinction and the undesirable behavior would not likely to decrease
! Extinction is sometimes criticized on the grounds that it is cruel to deprive people of social attention
during their time of need- at times this is a valid criticism but in any behavior must be examined closely
in terms of desirability of decreasing it- if decrease is desired then extinction frequently is the right
3) The setting in which extinction is carried out
! One reason for changing the setting in which extinction is carried out is to minimize the possibility that
other people will reinforce the behavior you are trying to decrease
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