Chapter 5 – Extinction
Extinction: a behaviour that had been reinforced for a period of time was no longer
reinforced and the behaviour stopped occurring.
1. A behaviour that has been previously reinforced
2. No longer results in the reinforcing consequences
3. And, therefore, the behaviour stops occurring in the future.
As long as a behaviour is reinforced, even intermittently, it will continue to occur. If a
behaviour is no longer followed by a reinforcing consequence, the person will stop
engaging in that behaviour. When a behaviour stops occurring because it is no longer
reinforced, it has undergone extinction or has been extinguished.
Extinction burst: Increase in the frequency, duration, or intensity of the unreinforced
behaviour during the extinction process. This is a natural characteristic of an extinction
Novel behaviours (behaviours that did not typically occur in a particular situation) may
occur for a brief period when the behaviour is no longer reinforced.
This can include emotional responses. Aggressive behaviour is often seen when
extinction is used.
Amanda cries every time she is put to bed. When her parents stop coming to check on
her when she cries, she screams and cries louder in order to get attention – extinction
burst. She also throws her toys and kicks her bed – novel behaviours.
Spontaneous recovery: the behaviour occurs again, even after it has not appeared for
some time. People have to be careful not to reinforce this spontaneous recovery or else the
process may have to start again.
Procedural Variations of Extinction
Behaviour can undergo extinction whether it was reinforced by positive or negative
reinforcement. The outcome is still t