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Psychology (9,573)
PSYB45H3 (1,061)
Jessica Dere (573)
Chapter 5


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University of Toronto Scarborough
Jessica Dere

CHAPTER 5: DECREASING BEHAVIOUR WITH EXTINCTION • Two types of extinction: operant and respondent. • The principle of operant extinction states that if in any given situation a person exhibits a previously reinforced behaviour, then ceasing to reinforce the behaviour will lead to the behaviour being exhibited less frequently when encountering a similar situation o Ex: if a response has been increased in frequency due to positive reinforcement, then ceasing the positive reinforcement will lead to a decrease in the frequency of the response. • It may take several repetitions of the behaviour occurring without being reinforced before any obvious decrease in its frequency occurs. • Extinction is not the only cause for a decrease in behaviour, it could also be caused by reprimand (parents yelling STOP THAT when a child swears); response cost punishment (parents cut 25c from allowance every time child swears); or forgetting in which a behaviour is weakened as a function of time from its last occurrence. • Extinction decreases behaviour by ceasing to reinforce it. Factors influencing the effectiveness of extinction: 1. Controlling reinforcers for the behavior that is to be decreased:  If a mother is trying to get a whiny child to stop whining, she may ignore the whines and reward the child with what he/she wants when the whining has ceased.  However in a later instance another individual gives the child what they want when they are whining to get them to stop whining it undermines the extinction procedure.  It is therefore necessary to control the behavior of individuals who may sabotage the procedure or carry it out in their absence. 2. Extinction combined with positive reinforcement for an alternate behavior:  Extinction is most effective when coupled with a reinforced alternate behaviour.  If a child is crying unnecessarily they should be ignored until the crying ceases.  The alternate behaviour of playing quietly can be rewarded with praise but it should be done 5-10 seconds after the behaviour of playing quietly is exhibited (5 seconds is an example it’s not hard and fast) over time the alternate behaviour should be allowed to occur longer gradually before it is rewarded. 10 seconds then 20 seconds etc.  Rewarding the behaviour immediately after the child stops crying will in fact reinforce the crying behaviour not the alternate one. 3. The setting in which extinction is carried out:  The setting of the extinction program is important to minimize the influence of alternate reinforcers for the undesirable behaviour. o Ex: when a whining child is given what they want by someone who wants them to stop whining and is unfamiliar with the extinction program.  The setting of the extinction program is also important to maximize the chances of the behaviour modifier persisting with the program. o Ex: a mother is unlikely to carry on with extinction if her child is whining loudly in a grocery store due to the dirty looks from other shoppers. 4. Instructions: Use Rules  It will help if the individual is told something like “each time you do X then Y will no longer occur”. o Ex: If a husband who comes home every day and complains about traffic is told “the traffic is the same every day and it doesn’t do any good complaining about it, I love to talk to you about other things but each day you come complain about traffic I’m going to ignore it” the behaviour of complaining should decrease rapidly although it may take a couple repetitions. 5. Extinction is quicker after continuous reinforcement:  There are two types of reinforcement: Continuous and intermittent.  In continuous reinforcement each instance of a particular response is reinforced o Behaviour is extinguished more quickly if it was continuously reinforced.  In intermittent reinforcement is when a response is reinforced only occasionally. o If the behaviour was reinforced intermittently it takes much longer to extinguish. o An example is, if you have a pen that is writing fine and then suddenly it stops, you shake it up and down and attempt to write with it again. If after shaking it up and down it still doesn’t work you immediately throw it away. o However a second pen skips occasionally. After shaking it the pen starts to write for a while and then stops working again, you will once again shake it, it again starts to write for a while and you are more likely to persist with the behaviour of shaking it and continuing to write with the pen in the second situation rather than the first. 6. Behaviour being extinguished may get worse before it gets better:  Extinction burst: during extinction a behaviour may increase before it decreases.  It is because most of us have learned if a behaviour isn’t paying off then sometimes increasing the behaviour is sufficient for the pay off.  However it is important to be aware of the extinction burst and to not give up on the extinction program due to the extinction burst.  Also, it i
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