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Chapter 5

Chapter 5.pdf

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John Bassili

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Chapter 5: Extinction
Occurs when:
1. A behaviour that has been previously reinforced
2. No longer results in the reinforcing consequences
3. Therefore, the behaviour stops occurring in the future
Skinner demonstrated extinction with lab animals (pigeon no longer received food as a reinforce
for pecking the key, key-pecking behaviour stopped, rat and receiving food by pressing lever)
Extinctions in human behaviour: decreasing night time tantrums of young child (tantrums
reinforced by parents’ attention)
Extinctions to stop self-injurious behaviour of mentally retarded child, incorrect math answers
Extinction burst once behaviour no longer reinforced, often increases briefly in frequency,
duration, intensity before it decreases and ultimately stops
Extinction burst novel behaviours (behaviours that don’t typically occur in a particular
situation) may occur for a brief period when a behaviour is no longer reinforced.
Example: when Amanda’s parents no longer reinforced her crying at night, she cried longer and
louder (increased duration and intensity) but she also screamed and hit her pillow (novel
Sometimes, the novel behaviours during extinction bursts may include emotional responses
Extinction burst involves increase in unreinforced behaviour or occurrence of novel and
sometimes emotional behaviours for brief period (very natural reaction)
Spontaneous Recovery: natural tendency for the behaviour to occur again in situations that are
similar to those in which it occurred before extinction (if behaviour gets reinforced, extinction is
Procedural Variations of Extinctions: positive and negative reinforcement
If a behaviour is positively reinforced, consequence is applied or added after the behaviour
(withholding consequence that was previously delivered after behaviour)
If a behaviour is negatively reinforced, behaviour results in the removal or avoidance of an
aversive stimulus (eliminating the escape or avoidance of an aversive stimulus, behaviour stops)
E.g. negative reinforced: lying to parents
Self-injurious behaviours were positively reinforced by attention from adults, they implemented
extinction by removing the adult attention after the behaviour.
However, in some children they were negatively reinforced self injurious behaviour resulted
in escape from academic tasks (extinction required teacher not to remove academic demand)
Edward Carr studied behaviour disorders or children with mental retardation. Showed
aggressive behaviour in 2 children occurred only in demand situations (escape behaviour) ie
aggressive behaviour negatively reinforced by termination of demands. Preventing escape
functions as extinction
Common misconception about extinction: Using extinction simply means ignoring the behaviour.
Only works if attention is the reinforce. Ignoring the behaviour doesn’t take away reinforcer,
therefore it doesn’t function as extinction
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