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Posted: September 6th, 2023

Extinction of Behavior Through Withholding Reinforcement

There are various ways that a behavior analyst can reduce behaviors. Punishment was discussed earlier this quarter, but behaviors can also be decreased through another procedure called extinction. Extinction withholds reinforcement, rather than adding or removing a consequence. Extinction is another basic principle of behavior, and we will explore it this week.

For this assignment:

Write a paper explaining the concept of extinction. Be sure to explain how extinction relates to the presence or absence of reinforcement in your definition. Provide support for your explanation from your course texts.
Present three real-world, detailed examples of how a behavior may be placed on extinction.
Additional Requirements
Your assignment should also meet the following requirements:

Written communication: Should be free of errors that detract from the overall message.
APA formatting: References and citations are formatted according to current APA style guidelines. Review the Evidence and APA section of the Writing Center for more information on how to cite your sources.
Resources: 1–2 scholarly or professional resources.
Length: 3 double-spaced pages, in addition to the title page and references page.
Refer to the MS in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Research Guide

Extinction of Behavior Through Withholding Reinforcement
Introduction
Behaviorism is a school of thought that views human and animal behavior as a function of conditioning through interactions with the environment (Miller, 2019). At the core of behaviorism are basic principles of learning, such as reinforcement and punishment. Extinction is another important principle that involves withholding reinforcement to reduce undesired behaviors (Pierce & Cheney, 2017). This paper will define extinction, provide real-world examples, and discuss its implications.
Definition of Extinction
Extinction is the process by which a behavior is reduced or eliminated due to the removal of reinforcement (Cooper et al., 2020). When a behavior that was previously reinforced no longer results in a reward or consequence, it will gradually weaken and occur less frequently over time (Pierce & Cheney, 2017). For example, if a child is used to getting a cookie every time they clean their room but the reward is suddenly withheld, cleaning the room will extinguish as the motivation for the behavior diminishes (Miller, 2019). The key aspect of extinction is that it does not involve adding or removing consequences, only the absence of positive reinforcement (Cooper et al., 2020).
Real-World Examples of Extinction
There are many potential applications of extinction in reducing problematic behaviors. One example is using extinction to address attention-seeking behaviors in children. If a toddler acts out to get a reaction from parents, simply ignoring the behavior and not providing attention or eye contact can extinguish it (Miller, 2019). Another situation where extinction may help is in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. By resisting compulsions and not providing relief, the anxiety-reducing behaviors can weaken over time (Pierce & Cheney, 2017). Finally, extinction could help diminish aggressive behaviors in dogs. By not reacting to or rewarding mild forms of aggression, more extreme actions may be prevented (Cooper et al., 2020).
Conclusion
In summary, extinction is a basic principle of behaviorism that involves weakening undesired behaviors by withholding reinforcement (Miller, 2019). When the reward that previously maintained a response is removed, the behavior will extinguish. This approach can be applied to address many problem behaviors in applied settings like parenting, mental health treatment, and training animals (Pierce & Cheney, 2017; Cooper et al., 2020). Extinction provides a humane alternative to punishment for reducing unwanted actions.
References
Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2020). Applied behavior analysis (3rd ed.). Pearson.
Miller, P. M. (2019). Theories of developmental psychology (6th ed.). Worth.
Pierce, W. D., & Cheney, C. D. (2017). Behavior analysis and learning (6th ed.). Psychology Press.

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