Differential Reinforcement of Alternate behavior

differential reinforcement of alternate behavior
Differential reinforcement of alternate behavior

BEHAVIORAL CHANGE PROJECT: Differential reinforcement of alternate behavior

1. Author: Felicia Omotosho

2. Title: a) An investigation of differential reinforcement of alternate behavior on adults with autism who exhibit self-injurious behavior.

            b) An investigation of differential reinforcement of alternate behavior on individuals with Developmental Disabilities Who Engage in Inappropriate Sexual Behavior

3. Participant(s) and setting: a) 4 adults with autism at a community day program setting

                                               b) 2-4 adults with developmental disabilities

4. Behavioral definition (only): a) Self-injurious Behavior (SIB)

                                                   b) Inappropriate sexual behavior

5. Social significance of the target behavior:

 Some people with developmental disabilities often develop inappropriate behaviors such as self injury, risky sexual behaviors or aggressiveness. These behaviors are taboo in most communities and are associated with negative consequences. In this context, it is important to equip the care givers with appropriate best reinforcement strategies in order to reduce the incidences of this inappropriate behavior in people with developmental disabilities. The aim of this study is to evaluate the strengths and weakness of Differential Reinforcement of Alternate behavior (DRA) in managing inappropriate behavior in people with developmental disabilities (Bloom and Lambert, 2015).

6. Measurement system (include session length):

 The selected participants are individuals with developmental disorders who have engaged in inappropriate behavior that need to be rectified. The data measurements that will be gathered include participant’s age, gender, diagnosis, inappropriate behavior, and expected outcome after integrating the proposed intervention.

The session for each participant will be 5-15 minutes per day, per week (5 days). The sessions will be 10 min in duration, with 5-minn break between each session. The Multi-element design will be used during functional analysis, and the subsequent analysis will apply the reversal designs (Athens & Vollmer, 2010).

7. Reliability (include IOA procedures, formula, computations)

  Reliability will be determined using interobserver agreement (IOA). This will be calculated as follows; two independent observers will collect data of the inappropriate behavior. The observations will be divided into 10-s bins and the number of the responses will be scored in each bin.  The smaller number of responses observed in each bin will be divided by larger of the observed responses and converted into percentages.

The interobserver agreement (IOA) scores is >90%.  The generalized matching equations (GME) provide robust, reliable and precise information about the best alternative between 2 or more available reinforcement and a response allocation. The logarithmic GME version is as follows (Athens & Vollmer, 2010);

Log (B1/B2) = a log (R1/R2) + log b

Where B1 and B2 are frequency of responding to the reinforcement method,

 R1 and R2 are the relative response rates from obtained reinforcement from the alternative

Y intercept (b) is the bias of independent relative reinforcement rates and slope (a) is the function reflecting sensitivity reinforcement rates,

8. Procedures

 The sessions will be conducted by trained clinicians who will serve as experimenters. The observers will be clinicians (will receive in-vivo training on behavioral observation). The observers will seat behind a one-way mirror. The data will be collected on laptop and desktop, which will provide real time and scoring events in terms of frequency (disruption, aggression, SIB or screaming) and duration (escape from instructions or response time etc). The sessions will be conducted 4-16 times daily for five days in a week.

 Before performing the experimental analyses with the participants, a reinforce assessment will be done using procedures described by Piazza et al. (1999). The reinforcing efficacy will be achieved using appropriate activities such as use of praising words, toys, musical instruments or physical contact.


 The functional analysis of baseline will be performed as identical as the reinforcement assessment, but only that is associated with problem behavior. To obtain a baseline data, each instance of inappropriate behavior will result in delivery of reinforcement from the instructor. During this assessment, no programmed consequences will be put in place to ensure appropriate behavior so as to collect the baseline data that will be used for comparison purposes.

In addition, equal concurrent schedules of reinforcement will be put in place for both the problem and appropriate behavior. The intervals will be selected based and described and will consist of 30s during the delivery of a reinforcer and 30 s after reinforcing.

Intervention (complete and precise):

 Equal concurrent reinforcement schedules will be put in place for both inappropriate behavior and expected appropriate behavior after intervention. The intervals will be timed and the data will be collected in the same manner as in baseline analysis. For all participants, after the interval reinforcer access is complete, it will be removed and timer will be reset for another response.

9. Experimental design:

 The experiment design used in this study is phenomenological qualitative research design. This is because the study explores on how humans experience certain phenomena. The design sampling strategy is the purposive sampling which provides samples that are highly representatives of the targeted population. The research method also saves time, effort and money (Bloom and Lambert, 2015).

10. Graph (simply describe the scales of the horizontal and vertical axes and conditions):

The vertical axis will consists of responses (both for appropriate and inappropriate behavior) per time intervals versus the number of sessions attended. This will help in identifying the impact of differential reinforcement of alternate behavior on individuals with Developmental Disabilities in generating appropriate behavior (Bloom and Lambert, 2015).


Athens, E. S., & Vollmer, T. R. (2010). An investigation of differential reinforcement of alternative behavior without extinction. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 43(4), 569–589. http://doi.org/10.1901/jaba.2010.43-569

 Bloom, S.E., and  Lambert, J.M. (2015). Implications for practice; Resurgence and differential reinforcement of alternative responding: Journal of applied behavioral analysis 48(4):781-784 doi: 10.1002/jaba.266. Epub 2015 Oct 19.

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