Effects of fixed-time reinforcement schedules on resurgence of problem behavior


  • We thank Kennon A. Lattal and Hawley Montgomery-Downs for their suggestions on earlier versions of this manuscript. We also thank Julie Crouser, Leigh Shrimpf, and undergraduate research assistants who served as data collectors.
  • This research was completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a MS degree by the first author. This study was supported in part by Grant R40 MC 20444 from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Combating Autism Act of 2006), Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services.


Resurgence of problem behavior following the discontinuation of differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) may be prevented by response-independent reinforcer delivery. In basic research, response-independent reinforcer delivery following DRA prevented resurgence of the initially reinforced response and maintained alternative responding (Lieving & Lattal, 2003, Experiment 3). We evaluated the generality of these results by assessing if fixed-time (FT) reinforcer delivery following DRA would prevent resurgence of problem behavior and maintain appropriate behavior with 4 children with disabilities. For all participants, extinction following DRA produced resurgence of previously reinforced problem behavior and reduced appropriate requests, but FT reinforcer delivery following DRA mitigated resurgence of problem behavior and maintained appropriate requests.