Evaluating the effects of discriminability on behavioral persistence during and following time-based reinforcement

Valdeep Saini, Wayne W. Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


With four children with autism we evaluated a refinement to time-based reinforcement designed to reduce response persistence when we simultaneously introduced time-based reinforcement and extinction. We further evaluated whether this refinement mitigated response recurrence when all reinforcer deliveries ceased during an extinction-only disruptor phase. The refinement involved increasing the saliency of the contingency change from contingent reinforcement (during baseline) to time-based reinforcement by delivering different colored reinforcers during time-based reinforcement. Behavioral momentum theory predicts that increasing the discriminability of the change from variable-interval to variable-time reinforcement should lead to faster reductions in responding. We present data on four participants, three of whom displayed response patterns consistent with the predictions of behavioral momentum theory during time-based reinforcement. However, the participants showed more varied patterns of recurrent behavior during extinction. We discuss these results within a translational research framework focusing on strategies used to mitigate treatment relapse for severe destructive behavior, as time-based reinforcement is one of the most commonly prescribed interventions for destructive behavior displayed by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-209
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the experimental analysis of behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • behavioral momentum theory
  • discriminability
  • noncontingent reinforcement
  • stimulus control
  • time-based reinforcement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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