Description of the Strategy

Extinction is a behavior modification procedure used to decrease the frequency with which a behavior occurs. The basic idea is a relatively simple one: If the reinforcer(s), positive or negative, maintaining a behavior are removed, the behavior will decrease. Extinction occurs often in daily life (e.g., a child stops pressing the buttons on a handheld video game shortly after the batteries run out) and is regularly used with-out explicit recognition (e.g., when children who reinforce each others' deviant behavior are placed in separate groups on a school field trip). In this entry we will focus on the explicit use of extinction to decrease problem behavior.

The use of extinction involves two steps. The first step is to determine the ...

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