Midlands Technical College


Unit V Outline


Differential Reinforcement


Reinforcement to promote desirable behavior

Extinction to reduce problem behavior

Three forms:

Differential reinforcement of alternative behavior

Differential reinforcement of other behavior

Differential reinforcement of low rates of responding


Three criteria:

Desirable behavior will be increased

Desirable behavior must already be occurring

If not then use shaping or prompting

Must have access to a reinforcer

Steps to Implement:

Define the desirable behavior

Insures proper and consistent reinforcement

Define the undesirable behavior(s)

Must not present reinforcer when problem behavior occurs

           Identify the reinforcer

    Two reinforcers must be considered:

Reinforcer for desirable behavior (to be applied)

Reinforcer for the problem behavior (to be removed)

    Potential Reinforcers:

Reinforcer for the problem behavior

Preferred activities or interests (Premack Principle)

Identify by questioning client, parents, etc.

Test stimuli for approach behaviors

Test for behavior rate or duration when reinforcer is delivered

Reinforce the desirable behavior

        Reinforce immediately and consistently

Extinguish undesirable behaviors

Be sure reinforcer is not presented or is minimized

If minimized consider concurrent schedules

Maintain through intermittent reinforcement

Reduces possibility of extinction

Promote generalization

Implement DRA in all relevant stimulus situations



Use negative reinforcement to increase a desirable behavior

Use positive punishment (aversive activity previously reinforced through escape) to decrease problem behavior


Reinforce a behavior that is incompatible with the problem behavior


Reinforce communication that is functionally equivalent to the problem behavior


Reinforcer is contingent on the absence of the problem behavior

The problem behavior decreases through extinction


The presence of "other" behaviors

Zero rate of the problem behavior

Steps to Implement:

Identify the problem behavior reinforcer

Use functional assessment

DRO can not be used if extinction can not be implemented

Identifying the DRO reinforcer

Can use reinforcer that promoted problem behavior

Reinforcer can be activity or object, anything that functions to increase other behavior

Choose a time interval

Interval depends on baseline rate for the behavior

Interval should be shorter than average interval between behaviors

This guarantees the reinforcer will be delivered

Interval can be gradually increased

Implement the procedure

Inform the person that reinforcement will be given if problem behavior does not occur for a certain period of time

Eliminate the problem behavior reinforcement

Deliver reinforcer for "other" behavior if problem behavior does not occur during the specified interval

Increase interval length to manageable level for long-term reinforcement


Reinforcer is delivered when problem behavior is reduced to a criterion level

Reinforcment depends on a lower rate of the problem behavior

Used when:

Rate of behavior is key issue

Behavior can be tolerated

Full-session DRL: Reinforced if less than criterion number of responses occur in the interval

Spaced-responding DRL: Reinforced for time passage between behaviors (provides behavioral pacing)

Interval DRL: reinforce if only one response occurs in and interval

Steps to Implement:

Is DRL appropriate?

Do not use if you want to eliminate the behavior

Choose time interval

Choose full-session or spaced-responding DRL

Inform client:

What reinforcer is

What criterion for reinforcement is

Provide client feedback

Keep track of number of behaviors

Keep track of time interval

Antecedent Control Procedures

Procedure involves manipulating some aspect of the:

Physical environment

Social environment

The result of the procedure is to:

Make the target behavior more likely

Make competing behaviors less likely


Antecedent stimuli are manipulated to evoke desirable behaviors. Once present these behaviors are differentially reinforced, which also decreases competing behaviors that interfere with the target behavior.

There are two kinds of antecedent control manipulations:

Those that evoke the target behavior

Those that make competing behaviors less likely

Evoking the target behavior

Presenting a stimuli

You want to arrange the right conditions for the behavior to occur in

Choosing a stimuli to present involves asking

Presenting a stimuli that has some stimulus control over the target behavior

The stimuli can include:

The discriminative stimulus

A supplementary stimuli that functions as a cue:

Stimulus prompt

Response prompt

Arranging establishing operations

Involves changing the reinforcing value of the behavioral consequence

Makes the target behavior more likely to occur

Decreasing response effort for the desirable behavior

If a behavior requires less effort than a competing behavior, and the reinforcers are equal, then the less effort behavior is more likely to occur

Increasing the target behavior

Can use any combination of three methods

Should always involve differential reinforcement to strengthen the desirable behavior

Decreasing problem behaviors may involve procedures that are:


Interventions are the result of a functional assessment

Interventions alter the antecedents or consequences


Interventions do not depend on punishment procedures

Functional Nonaversive Procedures:


Remove the reinforcer so there is no reason for the behavior to occur

Differential Reinforcement

Allow the individual to achieve the same outcome without performing the problem behavior

Antecedent Control Procedures

Manipulate the antecedents, performance difficulty, or consequence potency

Making undesirable behaviors less likely

Undesirable behaviors may compete with, or interfere with the target behavior

Undesirable behaviors can be eliminated in one of three ways

These methods can be used individually or combined

Research has shown these to be effective

Decreasing undesirable behaviors

Removing the discriminative stimulus or cues for competing behaviors

Removing establishing operations for competing behaviors

Increasing response effort for competing behaviors

Manipulating the SD or cues

Eliminate the SD or cues for the problem behavior

Provide the SD or cues for desirable alternative behaviors

Decreasing Problem Behaviors

Manipulating establishing operations:

Use when extinction is not possible

Eliminate establishing operations for problem behavior

Create establishing operation for desirable behaviors

Manipulating response effort

Increase for problem behavior

Decrease for desirable behavior

Choosing appropriate strategy depends on understanding the situation

Understanding comes by knowing three term contingency for:

Target behavior

Competing behaviors

Three Term Contingency

Target Behavior


What are the SDís?

What cues can evoke?

Which of the SDís and cues are already present?

Which of the SDís and cues are not present?

Which of the SDís and cues do you have access to?


Define behavior in clear terms

Can you reduce the response effort for the target behavior?


What is the reinforcer?

Is the reinforcer contingent on the target behavior?

Is the reinforcer strong enough to maintain behavior?

Would establishing operations enhance the reinforcer?

Could other reinforcers be used contingent on the behavior?

Competing Behaviors:


What are the SDís?

What cues can evoke?

Which of the SDís and cues are already present?

Which of the SDís and cues are not present?

Which of the SDís and cues do you have control over?


Define behavior in clear terms

Can you increase the response effort?


What is the reinforcer?

Is the reinforcer contingent on the behavior?

Is the reinforcer strong enough to maintain behavior?

Would establishing operations reduce the reinforcer potency?

Could you use extinction and eliminate the reinforcer?


Can the antecedents be manipulated?

Do you have control over them?

Do practical considerations limit changing the antecedents?

Are the antecedents manipulations acceptable?

Can you provide an appropriate rationale for the manipulations?

Manipulations are more likely to be accepted if education is used to increase understanding

Is it beneficial to change the treatment environment?

What is the optimal treatment environment for the individual being treated?

Are substantial changes needed to the current treatment environment?

Would the individual benefit from a change in treatment environment?



Behavior change occurs in the presence of stimuli that are similar to the discriminative stimulus used in training

A class of similar stimuli develops stimulus control over the behavior


Behavior change occur in every relevant situation


Modify the reinforcers outside training

Arrange appropriate stimulus situations and response variations in training

Modifying Reinforcers:

Reinforcing instances of generalization

When the behavior occurs in the presence of the the appropriate stimuli reinforcement can be given

Canít be used if change agent canít provide reinforcer in natural environment

Utilize natural reinforcers in the environment

Try to include skills in the behavior change program that are naturally reinforcing

Canít be used if natural reinforcers arenít available

Modify natural contingencies

Enlist help of those in the environment to provide reinforcer

Alternate is to remove natural punishment contingencies which may exist, so behavior is not suppressed

Modifying Stimuli & Response:

Including relevant stimuli in training

Behavior generalizes into situations that include stimuli already encountered during training

If enough stimulus exemplars (relevant situations) are included in training, the behavior will generalize to all the members of the stimulus class from which the exemplars are chosen.

General case programming Ė using multiple training examples to sample the entire range of relevant stimulus situations and response variations

Including common stimuli

Some feature of the relevant environment is incorporated into training environment (similar surroundings)


Training includes a range of responses

Key is training in functionally equivalent responses

Different responses that result in the same outcome

Provides a wider variation of behaviors from which to draw, providing greater likelihood of reinforcement, and greater likelihood of generalization

Using self-generated mediators of generalization

Mediator: A stimulus that is maintained and transported by the client as part of treatment

Stimulus can be an object or behavior

Stimulus has stimulus control over the behavior

Examples: written instructions to read, memorized rules to recite, self-recording sheet, self-instruction

Implementing Generalization Strategies

Identify target stimulus for the behavior

Identify all relevant situations for behavior to occur in

Identify relevant stimuli in those situations

Identify natural reinforcers in relevant situations

Training focuses on behaviors to obtain these, then generalization is more likely

Tailor the behavior change to what the situation naturally reinforces

Measure generalization of behavior change

Record changes that occur in relevant situations

Implement new generalization strategies as needed

Generalizing reductions in behavior:

Generalization is unlikely if behavior change includes only extinction or punishment procedures

Some relevant situations will still reinforce, or fail to punish the behavior

Focus on developing functionally equivalent alternative behaviors (reinforcer is obtained through desirable behavior)

Constructional approach Ė develop appropriate behaviors that are functional for the person

Success is more likely if combined with extinction of problem behavior


Steps to generalize behavior reductions:

Conduct a functional assessment of the problem behavior

Identify all antecedents and consequences

Plan for generalization

Include generalization strategies in training

Focus on promoting functionally equivalent alternative behaviors

Maintain extinction or punishment procedures across situations and over time

Behavior will not stop in reinforcing situations

Watch for spontaneous recovery


Key: Modifying your own behavior


Increasing a behavior not occurring because:

It is not being reinforced

A competing reinforced behavior interferes with it

Reducing an excess of an undesirable behavior that is occurring because:

It is immediately reinforced

Alternative behaviors are not present that may interfere with it


A person engages in one behavior at one time in order to control the occurrence of another behavior at a later time


Controlling behavior

Implementing self-management strategies which can include changing antecedents or consequences for the target behavior

Controlled behavior

Target behavior

Commonly used procedures:

Antecedent manipulations

All self-management involves antecedent manipulations because something is changed before the target behavior occurs

Manipulations can include:

Presenting SD for target behavior

Removing SD for competing behaviors

Adding establishing operations for target behavior

Removing establishing operations for competing behaviors

Decrease response effort for target behavior

Increasing response effort of competing behaviors

Behavioral Contracting

Develop a written document that specifies:

Target behavior


Criterion level of target behavior to occur in specified time period

Most effective when contract involves contract manager

Avoids short-circuiting the contingency

Arranging reinforcers and punishers

Changing consequences without a contract

Most effective when consequence delivery depends on another person

Problems include lack of willingness to help, or lack of cooperation

Punishment often uses:

Response cost Ė money

Aversive activities Ė cleaning, washing dishes

Social Support

You specifically arrange for a significant other to provide:

Cues for target behavior

Natural reinforcing consequences

Important to include because it decreases likelihood of short-circuiting by not reinforcing a behavior or by reinforcing a nonoccurrence of a behavior

Self-instructions & Self-praise

Self-instructions Ė tell yourself what to do or how to do it

Self-praise Ė positively evaluate your behavior

Involves developing self-statements, identifying appropriate situations for use, and rehearsing

Goal-setting & Self-monitoring

Record the criterion level for the target behavior nad the time frame

Goals should be achievable so reinforcement can be delivered early, which increases the likelihood of success

Then record each instance of the target behavior

Combining goal-setting with recording greatly increases the chance of success over goal-setting alone

Implementing Steps:

Decide to use self-management

Anticipate a positive outcome

Define the target behavior and competing behaviors

Increase a behavioral deficit: Decrease competing behaviors

Decrease behavioral excess: Increase desirable competing behaviors


Specify desirable level of target behavior

Make baseline recording and specify intermediate goals if necessary

Make a written record, or public statement of your goal


Record baseline of target behavior

Recording may increase behavior:

If behavior changes to desired level and maintains than no further procedures are necessary

If behavior does not maintain at goal level then use further self-management strategies

Continue recording to judge maintenance of changes

Functional Assessment

Conduct concurrently with self-monitoring

Identify antecedents and consequences for both target and competing behaviors

Choose appropriate self-management strategies

Alter target and competing behaviors through:

Antecedent manipulations

Alter consequences

Use behavior skills training for alternate behaviors

Evaluate change

If target behavior is changing continue strategies, if not reevaluate strategies

Once goal is achieved begin maintenance strategies

Reevaluate self-management strategies

Did you implement the strategy correctly?

Did you choose relevant antecedents & consequences?

Use maintenance strategies

Utilize natural reinforcers

Maintain goal-setting and self-monitoring

Implement further self-management procedures as needed