Baseline reinforcement rate and resurgence of destructive behavior

Wayne W. Fisher, Valdeep Saini, Brian D. Greer, William E. Sullivan, Henry S. Roane, Ashley M. Fuhrman, Andrew R. Craig, Ryan T. Kimball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Concepts from behavioral momentum theory, along with some empirical findings, suggest that the rate of baseline reinforcement may contribute to the relapse of severe destructive behavior. With seven children who engaged in destructive behavior, we tested this hypothesis in the context of functional communication training by comparing the effects of different baseline reinforcement rates on resurgence during a treatment challenge (i.e., extinction). We observed convincing resurgence of destructive behavior in four of seven participants, and we observed more resurgence in the condition associated with high-rate baseline reinforcement (i.e., variable-interval 2 s in Experiment 1 or fixed-ratio 1 in Experiment 2) compared to a low-rate baseline reinforcement condition. We discuss the implications of these results relative to schedules of reinforcement in the treatment of destructive behavior and strategies to mitigate resurgence in clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-93
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the experimental analysis of behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • behavioral momentum theory
  • functional communication training
  • reinforcement rate
  • resurgence
  • treatment relapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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