Chapter 14: differential reinforcement:
Differential reinforcement: involves Appling reinforcement and extinction to increase the
occurrence of a desirable behavior or decrease undesirable. There are three types of
differential reinforcement procedures: differential reinforcement of alternative behavior
( DRA), differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO), and differential
reinforcement of low rates of responding (DRL).
Differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA):
Reinforce only the desirable behavior and do not reinforce the undesirable .Thus, it
involves combining the reinforcement for the desirable behavior while extinction of
When to use DRA: you have to ask yourself these three questions. 1) Do you want to
increase the rate of a desirable behavior? 2) Is the behavior already occurring
occasionally? 3) Do you have access to reinforcement that you can deliver after the
occurrence of the behavior?
Why the above three: DRA is to be used only when the desirable has occurred in past or
at least has occurred occasionally. Otherwise, do not use. It is often used to strengthen the
behavior after shaping and prompting has been used. You cannot use DRA if you have no
control over rein forcer.
How to use DRA:
1) Define the desirable behavior clearly
2) Define the undesirable behavior.
3) Indentify the reinforcer: Since every person is different, there is a different rein forcer
for different people. One way to find which reinforcer to use is to look at what rein
forcer is keeping the undesirable behavior and you can use that to reinforce the desirable
behavior. Another way to observe the person and see what he likes and doesn’t like to do.
You can use this as rein forcer to do some desirable behavior ( or you can use premack
principle). Another one is to just use a questionnaire to ask what he like and so on.
Another way is Present potential rein forcer contingent on an operant response (i.e. you
have to make a response to get this rein forcer like press a lever and get candy) and then
measure the duration and rate of response. Increase rate▯increase reinforcing.
Preference assessment: try out a variety of different stimuli and see which ones function
as reinforcer. This method can be conducted in different way: single, paired, and
multiple paired stimulus assessment.
Rein forcer assessment: to determine if the item did infact function as a rein forcer, you
deliver it contingent on a behavior and show that behavior increased.
Single stimulus assessment: each reinforcer is presented individual and then the
researchers sees which one caused the most effect. Paired stimulus assessment (forced choice or paired choice): two potential is presented
individual and then the researchers sees which stimuli does the individual approaches
Multiple stimulus assessment or multiple stimuli without replacement: multiple
stimuli are presented to an individual and then the researchers sees which rein forcer was
approached first. This first one is removed and then the researcher choices which one
was picked next. By the end you have an order of most to least reinforcing stimuli.
4) Reinforce the desirable behavior immediately and consistently. Increase delay makes
DRA less affective. Reinforce the desirable every time it occurs (continuous
reinforcement) so it can overtake the undesirable.
5) Eliminated or decrease the Reinforcing the undesirable behavior immediately and
6) Use intermittent reinforcement o maintains the target behavior, which will allow the
maintenance of the desirable behavior (resistance to extinction)
7) Program for generalization: target behavior occurs outside training and in all relevant
situation. If it doesn’t then DRA has not been effective.
Using differential negative reinforcement of other behavior (DNRA):
Negative reinforcement (avoidance or escape from something). The DNRA method will
involve preventing avoidance. Example: Workbook question▯outburst▯go out and avoid
work. Now outburst▯don’t go out▯keep doing work. Reinforcement applied by completing
all the work▯can now go out. Another example involves reading correctly and then
stopping the boring reading the rest of the days (negative reinforcement)▯reading
Variation of DRA:
Differential reinforcement of an incompatible behavior (DRI): you get the person to
do things in which both behavior cannot be done at the same time. For example, if a child
is using his hand to slap himself, the alternative behavior will be anything that involves
the use of hand so when engaged in this alternative behavior, the subject cannot engage in
slapping himself (this can reinforced to replace slapping)
Differential reinforcement of communication (DRC) or Functional communication
training: the subject learns to communicate response and if he can get what he wants
through communication the subject then does not need to perform any undesirable
behavior since communication is very efficient (i.e. ask for attention rather then getting it
through aggressive behavior).
Research on DRA: There are many things that people have done research on all want to