Changing respondent behaviors
Study and review
Two processes that can reduce CERs are 1) extinction. 2) counterconditioning
Extinction happens with the repeated occurrence of a CS without the US
Counterconditioning happens when an alternative or competing response such as relaxation replaces
People can learn to relax through the techniques of progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training
Systematic desensitization involves having the target person become and remain relaxed while
experiencing in vivo, imaginal or symbolic CSs from a stimulus hierarchy This method is very effective in
reducing fears and other emotional behaviors.
In vivo is usually more effective in reducing fears than imaginal or symbolic CSs.
Functional assessment data and SUDS are used in developing a stimulus hierarchy
In vivo exposure therapies such as gradual in vivo exposure and flooding, present CSs but do not include
relaxation as part of the process. They apply extinction to change a CER.
Flooding is a technique in which the target person experiences intense, prolonged exposure to feared
situations under the direction of a therapist. This method is designed to arouse high levels of fear while
preventing the target person from escaping or avoiding the fearful situations presented. The exposure
can be in vivo or imagined, both of which are highly effective in reducing strong fears.
Modeling techniques such as participant modeling have been applied to help people reduce strong fears
and cope well with frightening or uncomfortable medical procedures
Using videotaped modeling to reduce medical patients’ fears regarding surgical procedures increases
the likelihood that they will cooperate with and not disrupt the procedures and can decrease patients’
recovery time and length of hospital stay
Virtual reality exposure uses computer technology to present feared situations in three dimensions and
involves the senses of vision hearing and touch.
Extinction and counterconditioning
Respondent extinction: The process of extinguishing a respondent behavior proceeds gradually rather
than rapidly, just as it does for operant behavior. When used in respondent therapy, extinction is often called exposure because the procedure exposes the person to the CS (or a similar stimulus) without the
The relapsing of extinguished behavior: Extinction procedures do not erase the memory of the original
respondent learning. Reappearance of extinguished behavior can occur in three ways:
1. Spontaneous recovery
Additionally, if the CS and US are presented together again after extinction, the strength of the CR often
returns very rapidly.
Counter-conditioning: Use of alternative behaviors or competing responses to reduce behavioral
excesses. Counter conditioning trains the target person to substitute a competing or incompatible
behavior for the CR when the CS is present. Counterconditioning presents the CS without the US,
resulting in gradual extinction
Relaxation: Refers to a state of calmness with low psychological and physiological tension or arousal.
Tension and arousal: Part of fear reactions and experienced physically as tense muscles and rapid
breathing and rapid heart rate.
Tips for achieving relaxation:
1. The setting;
a. Procedure carried out in a comfortable place, free of interruptions and distractions.
b. Person should be seated or reclining, but not comfortable enough to fall asleep
2. Session length and schedule:
a. Relaxation sessions last between 10 and 30 minutes (learning the technique takes more