Resurgence as Choice: Implications for promoting durable behavior change

Brian D. Greer, Timothy A. Shahan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Resurgence is an increase in a previously suppressed behavior resulting from a worsening in reinforcement conditions for current behavior. Resurgence is often observed following successful treatment of problem behavior with differential reinforcement when reinforcement for an alternative behavior is subsequently omitted or reduced. The efficacy of differential reinforcement has long been conceptualized in terms of quantitative models of choice between concurrent operants (i.e., the matching law). Here, we provide an overview of a novel quantitative model of resurgence called Resurgence as Choice (RaC), which suggests that resurgence results from these same basic choice processes. We review the failures of the only other quantitative model of resurgence (i.e., Behavioral Momentum Theory) and discuss its shortcomings with respect to the limited range of circumstances about which it makes predictions in applied settings. Finally, we describe how RaC overcomes these shortcomings and discuss implications of the model for promoting durable behavior change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)816-846
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • choice
  • differential reinforcement
  • problem behavior
  • relapse
  • resurgence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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