Resurgence following differential reinforcement of alternative behavior implemented with and without extinction

Katherine R. Brown, Brian D. Greer, Andrew R. Craig, William E. Sullivan, Wayne W. Fisher, Henry S. Roane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In the clinic, differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) often involves programming extinction for destructive behavior while reinforcing an alternative form of communication (e.g., a functional communication response); however, implementing extinction can be unsafe or impractical under some circumstances. Quantitative theories of resurgence (i.e., Behavioral Momentum Theory and Resurgence as Choice) predict differences in the efficacy of treatments that do and do not involve extinction of target responding when reinforcement conditions maintaining alternative responding worsen. We tested these predictions by examining resurgence following two DRA conditions in which we equated rates of reinforcement. In DRA without extinction, target and alternative behavior produced reinforcement. In DRA with extinction plus noncontingent reinforcement, only alternative behavior produced reinforcement. We conducted this study in a reverse-translation sequence, first with participants who engaged in destructive behavior (Experiment 1) and then in a laboratory setting with rats (Experiment 2). Across both experiments, we observed proportionally lower levels of target responding during and following the DRA condition that arranged extinction for the target response. However, levels of resurgence were similar following both arrangements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-467
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the experimental analysis of behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • behavioral momentum theory
  • destructive behavior
  • differential reinforcement of alternative behavior
  • extinction
  • resurgence
  • resurgence as choice
  • reverse-translational

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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