Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #225
CE Offered: BACB
Can We Decrease Problem Behavior without Extinction?
Sunday, May 25, 2008
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
Stevens 3
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida)
Discussant: F. Charles Mace (University of Southern Maine)
CE Instructor: Brian A. Iwata, Ph.D.

Although extinction is the most direct method for reducing the frequency of problem behavior, the procedure is sometimes difficult or impossible to use due to practical constraints (e.g., severity of problem behavior, size of client, inability to control the maintaining reinforcer). Three studies will be presented in which attempts were made to treat problem behavior with procedures that did not include extinction: (a) blocking, (b) negative reinforcement for compliance, and (c) combined antecedent interventions.

Structural and Functional Characteristics of Attention as a Consequence for Problem Behavior.
CARRIE M. DEMPSEY (California State University, Stanislaus), Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida), Jennifer Lynn Hammond (University of Florida)
Abstract: Attention has long been recognized as a source of reinforcement for problem behavior. However, little is known about its reinforcing characteristics. One common form of attention, response blocking, often is prescribed as a means of protection, yet its effects on problem behavior maintained by attention are unknown. Study 1 consisted of a structural analysis of attention. Direct observations were conducted of individuals who engaged in problem behavior, and attention delivered by caretakers was categorized according to a number of features (reprimand, warning, statement of concern, movement, physical contact, delivery of tangible item, etc.). Results showed a wide range of variation in the types of attention delivered by adults. Study 2 was an attempt to determine whether minimal attention in the form of response blocking was sufficient to extinguish attention-maintained problem behavior. Blocking (without any other forms of attention) was implemented initially but was found to be unsuccessful in decreasing the problem behavior of all participants. Elimination of problem behavior was observed subsequently when blocking was combined with either differential reinforcement or noncontingent reinforcement. These results suggest that response blocking per se might maintain problem behavior but that blocking might not compromise treatment effects when combined with other reinforcement procedures.
Analysis of Competing Contingencies for Escape-Maintained Behavior: Effects of Reinforcer Magnitude.
JENNIFER LYNN HAMMOND (University of Florida), Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida), Sarah Elizabeth Bloom (University of Florida)
Abstract: Previous research has shown that problem behavior maintained by social-negative reinforcement (escape) can be treated without extinction by delivering positive reinforcement (e.g., an edible item) for an alternative response (e.g., compliance). By contrast, delivering escape for compliance generally has been ineffective in the absence of extinction. It is possible, however, that negative reinforcement for compliance might be effective if the magnitude (duration) of reinforcement for compliance is larger than that for problem behavior. We evaluated the effects of reinforcer magnitude on escape-maintained behavior when both problem behavior and compliance were reinforced. Across all treatment phases, compliance produced escape of an equal, greater, or (in some cases) lesser magnitude than problem behavior. For 2 of 7 participants, problem behavior decreased when equal magnitudes of reinforcement were provided for both response options. For the remaining participants, however, results showed that enhancing the magnitude of negative reinforcement for compliance was not an effective treatment for problem behavior maintained by escape in the absence of extinction.
Effects of Combined Antecedent Interventions on Problem Behavior Maintained by Escape.
NATALIE ROLIDER (University of Florida), Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida)
Abstract: Extinction has been shown to be an important component of treatment for problem behavior maintained by negative reinforcement (escape). Prevention of escape, however, may be difficult to do with large or combative individuals. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of two antecedent interventions (instructional fading and the high-probability instructional sequence) when problem behavior continued to produce escape. Following a functional analysis of the targeted problem behavior, a compliance assessment was conducted to identify instructions for which there were high- and low-probabilities of compliance. Next, instructional fading and the high-p sequence were evaluated first separately, and if necessary, in combination.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh