TREATMENT EFFICACY OF NONCONTINGENT REINFORCEMENT DURING BRIEF AND EXTENDED APPLICATION

Authors


Psychology Department, The University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611.

Abstract

We evaluated the long-term therapeutic effects of noncontingent reinforcement (NCR). In Experiment 1, NCR effects were examined with 2 participants' arbitrary responses; in Experiment 2, NCR was used as treatment with 3 participants whose self-injurious behavior (SIB) was maintained by automatic reinforcement. In both experiments, NCR consisted of continuous access to a highly preferred leisure item and was implemented initially during 10-min and later during 120-min sessions. Varied reinforcers (leisure items) were subsequently introduced during 120-min sessions to determine if treatment effects might be extended. Finally (Experiment 2 only), NCR was implemented throughout the day in participants' homes. Results of Experiments 1 and 2 showed that reinforcers obtained through object manipulation can compete with those obtained automatically by engaging in SIB during brief NCR sessions. However, data from the 120-min sessions indicated that satiation to a specific leisure item might occur over periods of time more typical of those during which treatment would be implemented. Access to a variety of highly preferred leisure items extended the effectiveness of NCR for some individuals. When NCR was implemented throughout the day (Experiment 2), therapeutic effects were shown to be maintained for up to 1 year.

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