Chapter 14 – Applying Extinction
Using Extinction to Decrease a Problem Behaviour
One of the first approaches that should be considered for treating a problem behaviour.
Continuance of problem behaviour = a reinforcing consequence. To decrease
behaviour, must find reinforcing consequence and eliminate it. When no longer
reinforced, it will extinguish.
Collecting Data to Assess Treatment Effects
Must record problem behaviour before and after the use of the extinction procedure – in
order to tell if successful.
Need a behavioural definition of problem behaviour to be decreased, reliable data
collection method, baseline assessment to determine level of problem behaviour
before/after, whether generalization occurred, and continued data collection to check on
Identifying the Reinforcer for the Problem Behaviour through Functional Assessment
In functional assessment, antecedents and consequences of the problem behaviour.
Cannot assume that a particular reinforcement is maintaining the behaviour.
Success of extinction procedure depends on whether the particular reinforcer
maintaining the problem behaviour has been identified. There’s a variety of
stimuli/events that may function as reinforcers.
Eliminating the Reinforcer after Each Instance of the Problem Behaviour
Failure to eliminate the particular stimulus or event that functions as the reinforcer for
the problem behaviour is failure to implement the extinction procedure correctly.
Extinction following positive reinforcement: when a behaviour is positively reinforced,
extinction means the person no longer gets the positive reinforcer following the
Extinction following negative reinforcement (escape extinction): when a behaviour is
negatively reinforced, extinction means the person no longer escapes from the aversive
stimulus following the behaviour.
Can You Eliminate the Reinforcer? Must determine whether the change agent (teacher, parent, etc.) can control the
reinforcer. If the change agents has no control the reinforcer, extinction cannot be
Extinction can only occur if the change agent can prevent the reinforcing consequence
each time the problem behaviour occurs.
Is Extinction Safe to Use?
Need to determine whether extinction could result in harm to the person exhibiting the
problem behaviour or to the other people in immediate environment.
Example: Child that runs into the road for attention cannot be ignored as a way to
prevent the reinforcer. If you leave the child in the road, she might get hurt.
Extinction may be particularly unsafe when a problem behaviour is negatively reinforced
because extinction = preventing escape when problem behaviour occurs. Prevention
usually requires physical guidance through the task – very h