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Lecture Note For Chapter 5, come and see

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Christian Campbell

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 childs 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 procedure 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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