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Noncontingent Reinforcement

Description of the Strategy

In recent years, researchers have demonstrated that undesired operant behaviors exhibited by people with developmental disabilities can be reduced by delivering the reinforcer for those behaviors under purely timebased (usually fixed-time) schedules. Such schedules often are referred to as noncontingent reinforcement (NCR), although that description is inaccurate, as discussed below, under “Complications.” Using NCR typically involves three steps, described as follows.

Step 1: Functional assessment

Initially, a functional assessment should be conducted to identify the reinforcer(s) for the problem behavior. Depending on the time and resources available, the reinforcer(s) can be isolated by direct observation, interviews with knowledgeable caregivers, or experimental functional analysis in which the target behavior is measured under different experimental conditions. In most published ...

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