Graduated Extinction

Description of the Strategy

Extinction is a term used to describe how a reinforced behavior becomes less frequent if reinforcement for that behavior is withdrawn. Eventually, if the behavior is not reinforced over a period of time, the behavior will cease. Extinction procedures are typically applied by removing a reinforcer in its entirety following a behavior (e.g., removing all attention from a tantrumming child). Graduated extinction is an application of the extinction principle that removes a reinforcer for a behavior in an incremental fashion or reduces the magnitude of reinforcement incrementally.

Graduated extinction is most widely used as an intervention for childhood sleep problems (e.g., refusal to go to sleep, frequent nighttime wakings). Two common variations of graduated extinction have been applied. In ...

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