Noncontingent reinforcement competes with response performance

Michael E. Kelley, Cy B. Nadler, Catalina Rey, Sarah Cowie, Christopher A. Podlesnik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Noncontingent reinforcement is a commonly used procedure to decrease levels of problem behavior. Goals of this intervention are to decrease motivation, responding, and the functional relation between behavior and consequences, but it could also possibly compete with performance of alternative desirable responses. In the current study, we assessed the effects of noncontingent reinforcement arranged from 0% to 100% of sessions on performance of alternative responding across two experiments. Experiment 1 assessed manding (i.e., requests) maintained by attention and tangibles with a child with developmental disabilities and Experiment 2 assessed keypecking maintained by food with six pigeons. We extended previous research by (a) showing that noncontingent reinforcement competes with both the acquisition and maintenance (performance) of an alternative response, (b) extending the generality of the findings across nonhuman and human participants, and (c) eliminating influence of sequence effects through random manipulations of noncontingent value in pigeons. Overall, greater amounts of noncontingent reinforcement competed with both acquisition and maintenance of alternative responding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-353
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the experimental analysis of behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • differential reinforcement of alternative behavior
  • noncontingent reinforcement
  • pigeon
  • translational research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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