CH. 17 USING PUNISHMENT: Time-Out and Response Cost
Types of Time Out
Time out is the loss of access to positive reinforcers for a brief period
contingent on the problem behavior. The result is a decrease in the future
probability of the problem behavior.
2 types of time out: exclusionary and non-exclusionary
Non-exclusionary: in the same environment but away from the reinforcer.
Exclusionary time-out: contingent on the problem behavior, the person is
completely removed from the environment that caused the problem
Using Reinforcement with Time-Out
The time-out procedure decreases the rate of the problem behavior, and a
differential reinforcement procedure increases an alternative behavior to replace
the problem (differential reinforcement of alternative behavior DRA) or provides
the reinforcer for the absence of the problem behavior (differential reinforcement of
other behavior DRO), while at the same time applying extinction for the problem
Time out procedure eliminates access to positive reinforcers contingent on the
problem behavior, it is important for the person to have access to positive
reinforcers through a DRA or DRO procedure. If you used time-out without a
differential reinforcement procedure, there could be a net loss in reinforcement and
the problem behavior be more likely to re-emerge after treatment.
Considerations in Using Time-Out
- Function of the problem behavior? Time out is appropriate to use with problem
behaviors tht are maintained by positive reinforcement involving social or tangible
reinforcers. Time out removes access to these and other positive reinforcers contingent
on the problem behavior
- Time In environment (environment where the problem behavior occurs) must consist
of positively reinforcing activities or interactions for timeout to be effective. Removing
the person from this environment is time out from positive reinforcement only if the
time-in environment is positively reinforcing and the time-out environment is not
reinforcing or is less reinforcing
- When a problem behavior is maintained by sensory stimulation, time out is not
appropriate because it would not function as time-out from positive reinforcement. The
person would be removed from the activities or interactions in the time-in environment
and would have the opportunity to engage in the problem behavior while along in the
time-out area - Is Time Out Practical in the Given Situation? Time out is practical when the change
agents can implement the procedure successfully and the physical environment is
conductive to its use. In the time-out procedure, the person is often is removed from the
room or from the area of the room where the problem behavior occurs. The change
agent implementing time out often must physically escort the client to the time out
room or area.
- Is Time Out Safe? It mustn’t contain any objects that clients could use to hurt
themselves. They must be supervised at all time.
- Is the Time-out Period Brief? Time out is a brief loss to positive reinforcers. Duration is
usually 1-10 minute but if the client is engaging in problem behaviors in the time out
area at the end of the timeout period, time out is extended for a brief time (10 seconds
to 1 minute) until the client is no longer engaging in the problem behavior. This
extension of time-out is called contingent delay.
- Can Escape from Time-out Be prevented? Whether using exclusionary or non-
exclusionary time-out, change agents should prevent the client from leaving the timeout
room or area before the end of the time out interval. Client must not leave until the
interval is up.
- Can Interactions be avoided during Time-out? It must be implemented calmly and
without any emotional response from the change agent. Reprimands, explanations, or
any other form of attention must be avoided during time-out because they lessen its
- Is Time-out Acceptable in the Given Situation? You must be certain that the procedure is
acceptable in the particular treatment environment.
Research Evaluating Time Out Procedures
- Porterfield and colleagues evaluated time-out with young children who engaged in
aggressive and disruptive behaviors in a day care program. He implemented
contingent observation: contingent on the occurrence of the problem behavior, the
child had to sit and watch the other children play appropriately. The procedure
decreased the level of disruptive and aggressive behavior of the children in the day care
- It is the removal of a specified amount of a reinforcer contingent on the occurrence of
the problem behavior. Response cost is a negative punishment procedure when it
results in a decrease in the future probability of the problem behavior.
Using Differential Reinforcement with Response Cost - If a response cost procedure is being used to decrease a problem behavior, differential
reinforcement should also be used to increase a desirable alternative behavior (DRA) or
to reinforce the absence of the problem behavior (DRO).
Comparing Response Cost, Time-Out, and Extinction
- All 3 are used to decrease a problem behavior. However different processes are
- Extinction: the problem behavior is no longer followed by the reinforcing event that
previously maintained the behavior
- Time-out: person is removed from access to all source of reinforcement contingent on
the problem behavior
- Response cost: a specific amount of a reinforcer the person already possesses is
removed after the problem behavior.
Considerations in Using Response Cost
- Which Reinforcer Will Be Removed? You must identify the reinforcer and the amount of
the reinforcer you will remove in the response cost procedure. The reinforcer should be
one that the change agent has control over so that is can be removed after the problem
behavior. The quantity of the reinforcer must be large enough so that its loss contingent
on the problem behavior will decrease the problem behavior
- Is the Reinforcer Loss Immediate or Delayed? It is typically delayed but can also be
immediate. If response cost is to be used with people with severe intellectual deficits, it
is best to have an immediate reinforcer loss. A delay between the problem behavior and
the loss of the reinforcer may make response cost less effective. If response cost is going
to be used with people with severe or profound intellectual disabilities, it may best be
used in conjunction with a token reinforcement program.
- Is the Loss of Reinforcers Ethical? It is important tht the removal of a reinforcer is the
response cost procedure does not violate the rights of the person being treated or result
in harm to him or her.
- Is Response Cost Practical and Acceptable? It must be practical. The change agent must
be capable of carrying out the procedure. The response cost procedure must not
stigmatize or embarrass the person with the problem behavior. The change agent
implementing the procedure must find the procedure to be an acceptable method for
decreasing a problem behavior.
CH.18 Positive Punishment Procedures and the Ethics of Punishment
- In positive punishment, aversive events are applied contingent on the occurrence of a
problem behavior, and the result is a decrease in the future probability of the behavior. - Functional (and nonaversive) treatment approaches should always be used before
punishment is considered, and reinforcement procedures should always be in
conjunction with punishment.
Application of Aversive Activities
- Contingent on the problem behavior, the child is made to engage in an aversive activity.
As a result, the problem behavior was less likely to occur in the future.
- An aversive activity is a low probability behavior the person typically would not choose
to engage in
- Premack principle: when the requirement to engage in low probability behavior (the
aversive activity) is made contingent on the occurence of a high probability behavior
(the problem behavior), the high probability behavior will decrease in the future
- When applying an aversive activity as a positive