Evolution Of Extinction Within Behavior Analysis Essay

Evolution Of Extinction Within Behavior Analysis Essay

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The concept of extinction in behavior analysis refers to the ending of a reinforcer, causing the target behavior to cease over time (Cooper, 2007). For extinction to occur, there are three criteria that must be present. The first refers to a behavior that was reinforced at one point. One example of a common reinforcement strategy is a baby crying in the crib. The child will cry, the parents will enter the room- this positively reinforces the child 's’ crying, leading to an increase of the behavior in the future. The second criterion discusses the cease of previous reinforcement for the target behavior. For the baby crying example, this would be the parent’s no longer entering the room when the child is crying- in an attempt to no longer reinforce the behavior. The final criterion is when the reinforcement is stopped, the behavior no longer presents itself in the future. At this point, extinction has been reached for the target behavior. A behavior will continue to present itself as long as reinforcement is occurring- either regularly, or intermittently (Cooper, 2007).
An area of study that focuses on extinction is the realm of exposure-based therapy for individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This field utilizes extinction by pairing a memory with a conditioned stimulus (CS) cue, then modifying it to enhance extinction (Marks, 2014). This study, by Elizabeth Marks, attempts to pair a more pleasant memory in replacement of the memory causing PTSD, both memories occur within a specified reconsolidation window- which will, theoretically, negate the traumatic memory. In this study, the attempts actually increased the frequency of traumatic memory intrusions; however, the principle of using a CS cue is intriguing, and m...


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... effect. Another function of this behavior could be attention seeking- consuming alcohol in abundance to gain the attention of peers (high school/college parties). If the individual’s associating with this person ceased the attention-seeking reinforcement, the behavior would reduce (or stop)- which would lead to extinction. The third function of this behavior could be escaping task demands. If an individual feels overwhelmed with obligations, they may resort to alcohol to avoid dealing with its’ consequences. This is a common occurrence in modern society, and extinction may pose to be a great challenge if this is the function of the behavior. One way to place this behavior on extinction would be to analyze the individuals coping methods, or reduce their workload- a reduction in obligations could lead to a decrease in consumption- ultimately leading towards extinction.

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