The Effects of Lag Reinforcement Schedules and Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Responding on Reinforced Variability and Resurgence
Differential reinforcement of an alternative responding (DRA) is a commonly used procedure to teach children with ASD more functionally and socially appropriate skills and decrease problem behavior. However, resurgence of problem behavior could occur when treatment integrity errors appearing while implementing DRA procedure. In research, one approach to mitigating resurgence is to reinforce varied alternative responses using a lag schedule. A lag schedule of reinforcement is a method to increase variability in which a reinforcer will be delivered contingently if the response differs from a certain number of previous responses. The present laboratory study evaluated whether reinforced behavioral variability could be increased and resurgence mitigated when implementing a DRA procedure with a Lag schedule versus a Yoked-DRA with no variability requirement. This study included three phases. In Phase 1, a target response was reinforced. In phase 2, the alternative responses in the Lag component and Yoked-DRA component were introduced while the target response was on extinction. In Phase 3, all responses were placed on extinction and resurgence and behavioral variability were evaluated. For all three participants, resurgence was similar in both components, inconsistent with previous studies. During Phase 2, greater variability was observed in the Lag component than in the Yoked-DRA component for all three participants. In Phase 3, the level of behavioral variability was similar in both components. The present study suggests that using a Lag schedule could not mitigate resurgence. This study demonstrates a translational approach that may be used to increase behavioral variability and find potential methods for mitigating resurgence when multiple appropriate responses are available.