Effects of alternative responses on behavior exposed to noncontingent reinforcement

Javier Virues-Ortega, Brian A. Iwata, Tara A. Fahmie, Jill M. Harper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) may decrease the frequency of behavior by either inducing satiation or terminating the response-reinforcer contingency (extinction). Another possibility is that the target behavior is replaced by other behaviors maintained by preexisting contingencies. We conducted 2 experiments in which we allowed access to a target response and several alternatives. In Experiment 1, NCR, preceded by contingent reinforcement (CR) for the target, produced a reduction in the target and an increase in the alternatives in 2 subjects with intellectual disabilities. To separate the effects of NCR from the availability of alternative responses, we presented CR conditions to 4 subjects in Experiment 2 with and without the availability of alternatives. The availability of alternatives decreased the target in only 1 subject. Subsequent manipulations showed that reductions in the target were solely a function of NCR for the other 3 subjects. Thus, response competition may have marginal effects on response suppression during NCR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-612
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • alternative response
  • noncontingent reinforcement
  • preference assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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