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Chapter 15

Chapter 15

Course Code
Zachariah Campbell

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Chapter 15
Differential Reinforcement
Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior
DRA is a behavior procedure used to increase the frequency of a
desirable behavior and to decrease the frequency of undesirable
The desirable behavior is reinforced each time it occurs results in an
increase in the future probability of the desirable behavior
At the same time, any undesirable behaviors that may interfere with
the desirable behavior are not reinforced results in a decrease in the
future probability of the undesirable behaviors
Thus, DRA involves combining reinforcement for desirable behavior
and extinction of undesirable behaviors
When to use DRA
oAnswer these three questions:
Do you want to increase the rate of a desirable behavior?
Is the behavior already occurring at least occasionally?
Do you have access to a reinforcer that you can deliver
after the occurrence of the behavior?
How to use DRA
oDefine the desirable behavior
Identify and define the desirable behavior that you plan
to increase with DRA
oDefine the undesirable behaviors
Identify and define the undesirable behaviors you plan to
decrease with DRA
oIdentify the reinforcer
Reinforcers may be different for different people
(1) Use the reinforcer that is currently maintaining the
undesirable behavior you already know this reinforcer is
(2) Observe the person and note which activities or
interests he or she pursues high-rate behaviors
(3) Ask the person questions, or ask parents, teachers etc.
(4) Use reinforcer questionnaires
(5) Try out a variety of different stimuli and see which
ones function as reinforcers

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(6) Make each potential reinforcer contingent on an
operant response and measure rate or duration
oReinforce the desirable behavior immediately and consistently
Important to reinforce a behavior immediately after it
occurs if you want it to increase
A delay in reinforcement of the desirable behavior will
make DRA less effective
In addition, you should reinforce the behavior every time
it occurs
A behavior that is reinforced on a continuous
reinforcement schedule is more likely to increase to the
desirable level and to replace the undesirable behaviors
that are not being reinforced
oEliminate reinforcement for the undesirable behaviors
If the reinforcer for the undesirable behaviors cannot be
eliminated completely, it at least must be minimized so
that the contrast between the reinforcement of the
desirable and undesirable behavior is maximized
oUse intermittent reinforcement to maintain the target behavior
Continuous reinforcement is used in the early stages of
Once the desirable behavior is occurring consistently and
the undesirable behaviors occur rarely, if at all, you
should start to thin out the schedule of reinforcement and
reinforce the behavior intermittently
Intermittent reinforcement maintains desirable behavior
over time by making it more resistant to extinction
oProgram for generalization
Generalization means that the target behavior should
occur outside the training situation in all relevant
stimulus situations
Using differential negative reinforcement of alternative behaviors
oDNRA has been used in a variety of studies to decrease problem
behaviors that are maintained by negative reinforcement and to
increase problem behaviors to replace the problem behaviors
Variations of DRA
oDifferential reinforcement of an incompatible behavior
The alternative behavior is physically incompatible with
the problem behavior and therefore, the two behaviors
cannot occur at the same time
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