A preliminary evaluation of reinstatement of destructive behavior displayed by individuals with autism.
Reinstatement of previously extinguished behavior has been demonstrated in studies across species, including rats (e.g., Campbell, Phillips, Fixsen, & Crumbaugh, 1968; Franks & Lattal, 1976; Reid, 1957), pigeons (Doughty et al., 2004; Reid, 1957), and human populations (Reid, 1957; Spradlin, Fixsen, & Girardeau, 1969; Spradlin, Girardeau, & Horn, 1966). In a seminal study of reinstatement, Reid conducted three separate experiments with rats, pigeons, and college students, respectively. During each of the three experiments, responding maintained at high levels during an initial, reinforcement component, extinguished during a subsequent extinction component, and was reinstated during a third and final component in which response-independent reinforcement was provided. Reid's results suggested that reinforcing stimuli gained discriminative control over the response, as evidenced by the reemergence of behavior when the reinforcing stimuli were delivered independent of responding. Subsequent experimental analyses of reinstatement have evaluated variables such as the density of reinforcement during the initial reinforcement condition (e.g., Franks & Lattal, 1976) and relative reinstatement of responses reinforced on concurrent schedules (e.g., Doughty et al., 2004).
Reinstatement has also been demonstrated in human populations with special needs (Spradlin et al., 1969; Spradlin et al., 1966). For example, Spradlin et al. (1966) demonstrated reinstatement of arbitrary responding (i.e., button pressing) exhibited by six adolescent girls with mental retardation. Following high rates of responding during a fixed-ratio (FR) 50 schedule of reinforcement, the experimenters implemented extinction until responding ceased. Next, the experimenters implemented a condition in which reinforcement was provided on a fixed-time (FT) 30 s schedule of reinforcement that resulted in the reinstatement of responding. In a subsequent study, Spradlin et al. (1969) extended their earlier work by comparing differential reinstatement of arbitrary responses across three distinct conditions in 12 children diagnosed with mental retardation. Specifically, after establishing high rates of responding on a FR 25 or FR 50 schedule of reinforcement and subsequently extinguishing responding, the experimenters compared reinstatement across four conditions: (a) on a time-based schedule of reinforcement, (b) when an audio stimulus was provided, and (c) during a control condition. Eight out of 12 children demonstrated reinstatement of responding most often and at a higher rate when reinforcement was provided relative to the audio stimulus and control conditions. These results suggested that the reinforcing stimuli gained discriminative control. The results of Spradlin et al. (1966) and Spradlin et al. (1969) provided further support for the hypothesis that, in addition to strengthening behaviors, reinforcement may, at times, develop discriminative properties and occasion subsequent responding.
Similar to other forms of response recovery (e.g., resurgence; Lieving, Hagopian, Long, & O'Connor, 2004; Lieving & Lattal, 2003; Volkert, Lerman, Call, & Trosclair-Lasserre, 2009), it has been suggested (e.g., Doughty et al., 2004) that reinstatement may play a role in some applied circumstances when clinical relapse occurs. For example, the study of reinstatement has been a central feature of animal models of clinical relapse pertaining to substance abuse research (e.g., Shaham, Shalev, Lu, de Wit, & Stewart, 2003). For example, de Wit and Stewart (1981) showed that response-independent exposure to cocaine reinstated lever pressing in rats following periods of reinforcement and extinction. Other studies in behavioral pharmacology have evaluated reinstatement associated with drug-related cues (see Epstein, Preston, Stewart, & Shaham, 2006, for a review) and stress (e.g., Sinha, 2001). Despite the likelihood that reinstatement is a factor in socially significant situations in addition to substance abuse relapse, the majority of studies of the phenomenon have included nonhuman participants. Furthermore, although the application of reinstatement to clinical relapse is limited primarily to behavioral pharmacology, findings from that area of research as well as other previous studies (e.g., Spradlin et al., 1969; Spradlin et al., 1966) suggested that similar experimental preparations may shed light on the role that the phenomenon may play in other forms of clinical relapse.
It is possible that reinstatement may play a role in clinical relapse pertaining to the reemergence of destructive behavior. In some circumstances, certain treatments may create the conditions that often produce reinstatement effects. For example, treatments that involve response-independent reinforcement (i.e., noncontingent reinforcement [NCR]) may, at times, approximate the conditions that have been shown to produce reinstatement in basic studies. A common applied example of the use of response-independent reinforcement would involve the employment of NCR by a teacher who provides attention to a student at regular intervals for the purpose of decreasing classroom-based challenging behavior (see DeLeon, Williams, Gregory, & Hagopian, 2005, for a possible example of this effect). Failures of such treatments, when they occur, may result from reinstatement effects created via the noncontingent presentation of a previously contingent reinforcer that now evokes destructive behavior. Thus, under such circumstances, reinstatement effects would constitute a challenge to treatment. Other treatments that may, at times, produce reinstatement include extinction (e.g., escape extinction during treatments of food refusal and other escape-maintained challenging behaviors); NCR with momentary differential reinforcement (MDRO; Vollmer, Ringdahl, Roane, & Marcus, 1997); and treatments that incorporate delays to reinforcement (e.g., approximations of extinction during delays). In other circumstances, reinstatement effects may be produced during lapses in treatment integrity that involve the inadvertent delivery of response-independent reinforcement.
Challenges to treatments that involve lapses in treatment integrity associated with the reemergence of destructive behavior have been discussed previously in terms of failures to reinforce appropriate behaviors, alteration of antecedent conditions, and reinforcement of destructive behavior during treatment (St. Peter Pipkin, Vollmer, & Sloman, 2010; Wacker et al., 2011). However, basic findings on the reinstatement effect suggest that the inadvertent delivery of response-independent reinforcement during treatment may also constitute a challenge to treatment that may, at times, produce clinical relapse of destructive behavior. Given that (a) some treatments may create the conditions that have been shown in basic studies to produce reinstatement and (b) reinstatement effects may explain some circumstances in which clinical relapse occurs as a result of lapses in treatment integrity (i.e., inadvertent response-independent delivery of reinforcement during treatment), translational evaluations of reinstatement of destructive behavior are warranted.
The purpose of this study was to translate basic reinstatement findings (e.g., Spradlin et al., 1969; Spradlin et al., 1966) by demonstrating the reinstatement effect with destructive behavior exhibited by individuals diagnosed with autism. First, positive reinforcement was initially made contingent on destructive behavior. Next, destructive behavior was exposed to extinction and eliminated. Last, the previously reinforcing stimuli were provided independent of responding, and reinstatement of destructive behavior was examined.
Participants, Setting, and Materials
Three individuals previously diagnosed with autism participated in the study. Joseph, a 10-year-old boy, Ward, an 8-year-old boy, and Cooper, a 9-year-old boy were selected for participation in this study because of their histories and current levels of destructive behavior. Joseph, Ward, and Cooper scored 36.5, 40, and 40.5, respectively, on the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS; Schopler, Reicher, & Renner, 1988), which placed all three participants in the "severely autistic" range. With Joseph, who was diagnosed with autism by a pediatric psychologist, destructive behavior emerged at the approximate age of 3.5 in the form of tantrums; self-injurious behavior (SIB; hand-biting) and aggression (biting, kicking, hair pulling, hitting) emerged at age 5.5. With Ward, who was diagnosed with autism by a pediatric psychologist, destructive behavior emerged at the approximate age of 3.5 in the form of tantrums, SIB, and aggression. With Cooper, who was diagnosed with autism by a pediatrician, destructive behavior emerged at the approximate age of 3.5 in the form of tantrums; SIB and severe aggression emerged at age 5.5. All three participants were enrolled in local day treatment programs for the assessment and treatment of multiple destructive behaviors. Parental informed consent for participation in the study was obtained for each participant.
All sessions were conducted in a therapy room (4 m by 4 m) that contained a table, chair, and the reinforcement stimulus (i.e., an iPad for all three participants). Two therapists were present in the room during all sessions. One therapist delivered and removed the reinforcement stimulus; a second therapist video-recorded sessions for data collection purposes and monitored the time parameters for each condition. A free operant preference assessment as described by Roane, Vollmer, Ringdahl, and Marcus (1998) was used to identify the reinforcing stimulus to be used during sessions. The items included in the preference assessment were selected based on caregiver report and naturalistic observation, suggesting that the participants maintained destructive behavior. With all three participants, an iPad was associated with the highest level of engagement during the preference assessment and subsequently served as the reinforcing stimulus throughout the study for all three participants.
Response Definitions, Interobserver Agreement, and Procedural Integrity
Response frequency data were collected on destructive behavior by trained observers via video recordings using a computer-based data collection program. For Joseph, destructive behavior was defined as aggression and included hitting, hair pulling, choking, pinching, and biting. For Ward, destructive behavior was defined as aggression and included hitting and kicking. For Cooper, destructive behavior was defined as aggression and included hitting and pinching. Table 1 provides specific operational definitions for each topography of destructive behavior for each participant.
Table 1 Specific Topographies and Operational Definitions of Destructive Behavior for Joseph, Ward, and Cooper Child Response Definition Joseph Biting Actual or attempted closure of the upper and lower teeth on any part of the experimenter's body Choking Contact between the hands and the experimenter's neck area Hitting Forceful contact of a hand or hands against the experimenter's body Hair pulling Closure of the fingers on the experimenter's hair with a pulling motion Pinching Forceful closure of fingers on any part of the experimenter's body Ward Hitting Forceful contact of a hand or hands against the experimenter's body Kicking Forceful contact of a foot against the experimenter's body Cooper Hitting Forceful contact of a hand or hands against the experimenter's body Pinching Forceful closure of fingers on any part of the experimenter's body
A second observer collected data during one of three sessions for all three participants. Agreement data for the dependent variable were calculated by dividing each session into successive 10-s intervals and then dividing the number of intervals with exact agreements (i.e., two observers recording the same number of occurrences of destructive behavior in a given 10-s interval) by the number of intervals with agreements plus disagreements, multiplied by 100. Agreement was 95% for destructive behavior for Joseph, 96% for Ward, and 90% for Cooper.
To ensure the procedures were implemented as intended, an independent observer collected data on the integrity of the independent variable (IV) for 33% of sessions for all participants. The delivery of reinforcement was scored as correct if it was provided within 5 s of the participant engaging in destructive behavior during the FR 1 condition, and within 5 s of the scheduled delivery of reinforcement during the FT 2-min condition. During the extinction condition, the withholding of reinforcement following occurrences of destructive behavior was scored as correct application of the IV. Independent variable integrity was 95% for Jack, 96% for Ward, and 98% for Cooper, respectively.
Experimental Design and Procedure
A repeated, three-component sequential schedule design was used to evaluate reinstatement of destructive behavior. The three-component design was similar to that used in previous investigations of reinstatement (e.g., Doughty et al., 2004; Franks & Lattal, 1976) and resurgence (e.g., Bruzek, Thompson, & Peters, 2009; Lieving et al., 2004) and was implemented and repeated on three separate occasions with each participant. The individual components consisted of (a) an FR 1 schedule of reinforcement, (b) extinction, and (c) an FT 2-min schedule of reinforcement with a 10-s MDRO component (Campbell et al., 1968; Vollmer et al., 1997). During each of the three sessions conducted with the participants, all three conditions were implemented (i.e., one complete sequence of each of the three conditions was implemented during each session). No more than one session was conducted during a single day. The following experimental conditions were implemented within the three-component sequence:
FR 1. Prior to the initiation of each session, the participant was provided with 1 min of access to the iPad. To initiate the FR 1 condition, the experimenter removed and restricted the participant's access to the stimulus. The iPad remained in the room and visible throughout the condition. The experimenter provided access to the iPad on a FR 1 schedule of reinforcement contingent on destructive behavior. Destructive behavior resulted in 30 s of access to the iPad. The FR 1 condition remained in place until 5 consecutive minutes of efficient responding (e.g., Bruzek et al., 2008) were observed (i.e., destructive behavior occurred within 10 s of the removal of the iPad). Joseph met the efficiency criterion in an average of 467 s (range = 303 s-791 s; it should be noted that the first FR 1 condition was ended in error following 4 min of efficient responding rather than the intended 5 min). Ward met the efficiency criterion in an average of 306 s (range = 204 s-380 s). Cooper met the efficiency criterion in an average of 530 s (range = 300 s-871 s).
Extinction. Following 5 minutes of efficient responding during the first condition (FR 1), the second condition was immediately initiated in which destructive behavior was placed on extinction (i.e., all destructive behavior as well as other responses were ignored). Similar to the FR 1 condition, the iPad was present and visible to the participant in the room, but the participant's access to the stimulus was restricted throughout the condition (i.e., experimenters blocked participant attempts to access the iPad). The extinction condition remained in place until 5 consecutive minutes were observed in which no destructive behavior occurred (e.g., Bruzek et al., 2008). Joseph met the extinction criterion in an average of 545 s (range = 465 s-594 s). Ward met the extinction criterion in an average of 414 s (range = 371 s-446 s). Cooper met the extinction criterion in an average of 570 s (range = 417 s-776 s).
FT 2-min (test for reinstatement). Following 5 consecutive minutes in which destructive behavior did not occur during extinction, the third condition (FT 2-min) was immediately implemented. The iPad remained in the room and visible to the participant throughout the condition. The iPad was delivered every 2 minutes, and the participant was provided with 30 s of access to the stimulus. Destructive behavior was ignored throughout the condition. An MDRO (Vollmer et al., 1997) procedure was incorporated to prevent the potential effects of adventitious reinforcement on response recovery (e.g., Campbell et al., 1968; Franks & Lattal, 1976; Spradlin et al., 1966). The MDRO procedure consisted of withholding reinforcement in the case that destructive behavior occurred within 10 s prior to the scheduled delivery of reinforcement; the therapist delayed delivery of reinforcement until 10 s elapsed in the absence of destructive behavior. The MDRO procedure was implemented once with Joseph and was not exercised with Ward or Cooper. The FT 2-min condition remained in place for 10 minutes. The FT interval was paused during the reinforcement interval (i.e., 2-min intervals occurred between the removal of the iPad and the subsequent delivery of the iPad).
Figure 1 displays the frequency of destructive behavior across conditions for each session for Joseph (top panel), Ward (middle panel), and Cooper (bottom panel), respectively. All three participants engaged in consistent and high levels of destructive behavior during the FR 1 conditions. For Joseph, the frequencies of destructive behavior during the FR 1 condition(s) averaged 1.2, 1, and 1.8 responses (total M = 1.2), respectively. For Ward, the frequencies of destructive behavior during the FR 1 condition(s) averaged 2.2, 2, and 2 responses per minute (total M = 2.1), respectively. For Cooper, the frequencies of destructive behavior during the FR 1 condition(s) averaged 2, 3.9, and 2.8 responses per minute (total M = 2.9), respectively.
For all three participants, destructive behavior eventually extinguished during each extinction condition. For Joseph, the frequencies of destructive behavior during the extinction condition(s) averaged 1.1, 1, and 1.3 responses per minute (total M = 1.2), respectively. For Ward, the frequencies of destructive behavior during the extinction condition(s) were 10.8, 1.9, and 1 responses per minute (total M = 4.7), respectively. For Cooper, the frequencies of destructive behavior during the extinction condition(s) averaged 2.2, 7.7, and 3 responses per minute (total M = 4.3), respectively. It should be noted that extinction bursts occurred for all three participants during each implementation of the extinction condition.
During each FT 2-min condition (i.e., the tests for reinstatement), destructive behavior reemerged with all three participants. Thus, reinstatement of destructive behavior occurred with each participant during all test conditions. We also examined the within-condition data across bins for the FT analyses for each session (see Figures 2, 3, and 4). We did this for the purpose of a more systematic analysis of temporal relations between challenging behavior, the presentation of the reinforcement stimulus, and the removal of the reinforcement stimulus during the FT 2-min conditions for each participant. Figures 2, 3, and 4 (in addition to Figure 1) display the results of the three FT 2-min conditions for Joseph, Ward, and Cooper, respectively. The top, middle, and bottom panels of each figure show the results of the first, second, and third implementation of the FT 2-min condition, respectively. For Joseph, the frequencies of destructive behavior during the reinstatement test condition(s) were 1.3, 1.6, and 0.7 responses per minute (total M = 1.2) for total frequencies of 13, 20, and 7, respectively. For Ward, the frequencies of destructive behavior during the reinstatement test condition(s) averaged 4.6, 2.3, and 0.8 responses per minute (total M = 2.6) for total frequencies of 46, 21, and 8, respectively. For Cooper, frequencies of destructive behavior during the reinstatement test condition(s) averaged 1.2, 2.1, and 2.5 responses per minute (total M = 1.9) for total frequencies of 12, 14, and 25, respectively. Destructive behavior occurred following the removal of the iPad during a total of 92%, 75%, and 92% of all interreinforcement intervals for Joseph, Ward, and Cooper, respectively.
To further analyze temporal relationships between the removal of the iPad and the occurrence of destructive behavior, latencies were calculated for the first instance of destructive behavior (when it occurred) following the removal of the stimulus. The percentage of first instances of destructive behavior that occurred within 10 s of the removal of the iPad was calculated for each participant. This calculation was similar to the procedure used by Borrero and Borrero (2008) to evaluate temporal relationships between precursors, other events, and destructive behavior. Destructive behavior occurred within 10 s of the removal of the iPad during a total of 38%, 67%, and 92% of reinforcement removals for Joseph, Ward, and Cooper, respectively. The mean latency from the removal of the iPad to the occurrence of destructive behavior (when it occurred during the interreinforcement interval) was 21.7 s, 9.4 s, and 3.2 s for Joseph, Ward, and Cooper, respectively. With all three participants, no destructive behavior occurred during any 30 s reinforcement interval.
The results demonstrated the reinstatement effect with destructive behavior exhibited by three individuals with autism diagnoses. This included steady rates of destructive behavior during the FR 1 condition, cessation of destructive behavior during extinction, and the reemergence of destructive behavior during the FT 2-min condition. For all participants, the response-independent presentation of reinforcement that previously maintained destructive behavior, and was subsequently extinguished, reinstated responding. These results replicate previous demonstrations of reinstatement (e.g., Campbell et al., 1968; Doughty et al., 2004; Reid, 1957; Spradlin et al., 1969; Spradlin et al., 1966,) and extend previous findings to a human population with special needs with clinically significant behaviors.
Our results suggest that reinstatement should be considered within the context of clinical relapse pertaining to destructive behavior. Wacker et al. (2011) described several conditions that represent challenges to treatments that focus on destructive behavior. Specifically, Wacker et al. included brief and prolonged periods of extinction, alterations of antecedent stimulus conditions, and reinforcement of destructive behavior following treatment as conditions that represent challenges to treatment. The current results suggest that the conditions that produce reinstatement and the effects of remote reinforcement contingencies (i.e., behavioral history; Doughty et al., 2004) may represent a challenge to treatments that target destructive behavior, and clinical relapse may, at times, occur in the form of reinstatement. For example, our results suggest that reinstatement may play a role in the failure of treatments that include the delivery of response-independent reinforcement (i.e, NCR; DeLeon et al., 2005). Although the occurrence of adventitious reinforcement has been demonstrated as a potential challenge to the effectiveness of NCR (e.g., Vollmer et al., 2007), it is also possible that reinstatement may play a role when NCR or NCR with MDRO fails to produce positive clinical effects if reinforcement stimuli acquire discriminative properties.
Reinstatement may be an example of "behavioral persistence" (Wacker et al., 2011, p. 262) pertaining to destructive behavior. In other words, the reemergence of destructive behavior following extinction when response-independent reinforcement is provided may be affected by behavioral histories that produce short- and long-term resistance to changes in schedules of reinforcement. Determining the mechanisms, or the environmental conditions that contribute to behaviors being resistant to extinction or prone to reemergence following extinction, will likely assist in the generation of treatments that are effective at decreasing the persistence of challenging behavior while increasing the persistence of appropriate behavior. This experimental model provides a method to assess one type of potential persistence (i.e., reinstatement) within a short time and may help in the development of treatments that match the behavioral history of the individual being treated. Future studies should evaluate factors that may contribute to persistence in the form of reinstatement, including reinforcement schedules, response rates during reinforcement, and latency to elimination of behavior during extinction.
The risk of reinstatement of destructive behavior may be enhanced, given that extinction often plays a role in treatments for destructive behavior. Specifically, in addition to clinical situations in which extinction may be used in lieu of reinforcement-based components, extinction-in-isolation conditions often occur during multicomponent treatments that emphasize reinforcement-based procedures (e.g., delays to reinforcement with differential reinforcement). For example, the conditions that have been shown to produce reinstatement may, at times, be present during programmed and nonprogrammed delays to reinforcement as well as clinical situations in which reinforcement is not available. Although the current experiment involved extinction in isolation and has direct implications for treatments that consist primarily of extinction procedures, these results may also have implications regarding multicomponent interventions that include an extinction component when clinical relapse occurs. For example, it is possible that reinstatement of destructive behavior may occur when failures of treatment integrity occur in the form of the inadvertent, intermittent delivery of noncontingent reinforcers during extinction-based treatments.
Future studies should evaluate methods that focus on the strengthening of treatments in ways that specifically address challenges to treatment, such as conditions that produce reinstatement. For example, Doughty et al. (2004) demonstrated differential reinstatement resulting from discrepancies in response rate during response-dependent reinforcement (prior to extinction and response-independent reinforcement delivery). Specifically, when different schedules of reinforcement were implemented with respective responses during concurrent schedule arrangements during the first component, reinstatement occurred at higher levels with the response for which higher response rates were previously observed. Thus, future studies should evaluate conditions that produce differential reinstatement of alternative behaviors (e.g., appropriate communication) relative to destructive behavior during analogues to treatment lapses (i.e., experimental preparations typically used to study reinstatement) using concurrent schedule arrangements. Last, future studies should evaluate the extent to which the rapidity of extinction might affect the likelihood and intensity of reinstatement effects.
With regard to the concept that reinforcement stimuli may, at times, acquire discriminative properties, the results obtained during the response-independent reinforcement components were inconclusive. Specifically, destructive behavior did not follow 100% of the instances in which reinforcement was removed; and when destructive behavior did occur subsequent to instances of reinforcement removal, temporal relations between destructive behavior and the removal of reinforcement varied. Thus, although a discriminative effect component in terms of the reinforcement stimuli likely affected reinstatement, it is possible that other mechanisms (e.g., establishing operations, discriminative properties of other stimuli in the environment) may have impacted the reinstatement effects observed. Future studies should evaluate potential mechanisms responsible for the reemergence of destructive behavior during response-independent delivery of reinforcement.
Our results should be viewed in light of several limitations. First, within the context of the current design, it is not possible to determine whether the reinforcement stimulus itself, the process of removing the stimulus obtained discriminative properties, or other mechanisms may have produced reinstatement. Given the variability that was observed within sessions during the FT 2-min condition within and across participants in terms of the occurrence and latency to occurrence of destructive behavior following the removal of the reinforcement stimuli, future studies should systematically evaluate the specific discriminative properties that control the reinstatement of destructive behavior during the reinforcement process.
Second, the time parameters associated with the FR and extinction conditions were adapted from similar translational studies of resurgence (e.g., Bruzek et al., 2009); and the time parameter for the length of the FT condition was arbitrarily chosen. Given the clinical population in the current study, we elected to minimize to the extent possible the duration of sessions while following precisely the sequence of conditions used in basic studies of reinstatement. Thus, we combined the sequence of conditions used in basic studies of reinstatement with time parameters (e.g., condition durations; FR stability criterion; extinction criterion) used in similar translational studies of resurgence (Bruzek et al., 2009). Future studies should evaluate reinstatement of destructive behavior when various aspects of the time parameters are systematically manipulated. Such manipulations might include varying the duration of the reinforcement component, the duration of extinction, and the relative density of the FT component. The FT schedule of reinforcement was arbitrarily chosen but was consistent with basic studies of reinstatement (e.g., Doughty et al., 2004, delivered response independent reinforcement on an average of once every 2 min).
Third, it is difficult to determine within the context of our design and results the extent to which the different reinforcement rates associated with the FR 1 and FT 2-min conditions may have interacted with each other and in combination with previous histories of reinforcement to produce the reinstatement effects observed. Future studies should investigate how various reinforcement rates associated with respective schedules might interact in terms of their effects on reinstatement.
Fourth, it is possible that the MDRO procedure could affect reinstatement. Although the number of times the procedure was implemented was limited to one time across participants, its potential effects on reinstatement should be considered and its use weighed in future studies. Consistent with several previous basic studies of reinstatement (e.g., Campbell et al., 1968; Franks & Lattal, 1976; Spradlin, 1966), we elected to incorporate the procedure for the purpose of minimizing the possibility of an adventitious reinforcement effect. It should be noted that a variety of specific procedures to prevent adventitious reinforcement have been reported in the basic literature on reinstatement. For example, Campbell et al. and Spradlin et al. both incorporated a procedure that entailed a pause criterion to prevent adventitious reinforcement during tests for reinstatement; Franks & Lattal used a pause criterion, but only during the initial test of reinstatement; and Doughty et al. (2004) did not report the use of procedures to prevent adventitious reinforcement. Thus, it is difficult to determine the extent to which the use of the MDRO procedure may have influenced our results relative to previous reinstatement experiments. Future studies should evaluate the possible impact of various procedures intended to prevent adventitious reinforcement during evaluations of reinstatement.
Last, from a design standpoint, the results of the tests for reinstatement during the FT conditions may have been strengthened by the inclusion of a control condition comparing within-session responding. For example, Spradlin et al. (1966) incorporated a control condition that entailed the nondelivery of reinforcement following pauses in responding with which they compared the results of tests for reinstatement (i.e., response independent deliveries of reinforcement) to evaluate reemergence of responding. It should also be noted that the use of a control condition, as described by Spradlin et at, has not been consistently reported in basic studies of reinstatement (e.g., Franks & Lattal, 1976; Doughty et al., 2004).
In summary, our results demonstrated the reinstatement of destructive behavior resulting from the noncontingent delivery of a previously contingent reinforcement. Although our results did not conflict outright with previous accounts of reinstatement (i.e., discriminative effects of reinforcing stimuli), they were not fully consistent with previous accounts. Within-condition (tests for reinstatement) variances observed across instances of reinforcement removal and the occurrence of destructive behavior suggest that other mechanisms or effects may have affected the results. Thus, future research should explore the role of behavior mechanisms in addition to and/or in combination with discriminative effects of reinforcement with the reinstatement of destructive behavior.
We extend our appreciation to Shape of Behavior in Austin, Texas, for allowing us to conduct this research project. Specifically, Dominique Randall's assistance was invaluable.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Terry S. Falcomata, Department of Special Education, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station/D5300, Austin, TX 78712; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Terry S. Falcomata
The University of Texas at Austin and the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk
Katherine J. Hoffman, Summer Gainey, and Colin S. Muething
The University of Texas at Austin
Daniel M. Fienup
Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
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|Author:||Falcomata, Terry S.; Hoffman, Katherine J.; Gainey, Summer; Muething, Colin S.; Fienup, Daniel M.|
|Publication:||The Psychological Record|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2013|
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