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Keywords:

  • reinforcement;
  • contingency;
  • social reinforcement;
  • basic and applied research

Reinforcement contingencies and social reinforcement are ubiquitous phenomena in applied behavior analysis. This discussion paper is divided into two sections. In the first section, reinforcement contingencies are discussed in terms of the necessary and sufficient conditions for reinforcement effects. Response-stimulus dependencies, conditional probabilities, and contiguity are discussed as possible mechanisms of, and arrangements for, reinforcement effects. In the second section, social reinforcement is discussed in terms of its functional subtypes and reinforcement context effects. Two underlying themes run throughout the discussion: (a) Applied research would benefit from a greater understanding of existing basic research, and (b) basic research could be designed to specifically address some of the issues about reinforcement that are central to effective application.