The Principles of Behavior Modification #2 Extinction

Extinction is one of the basic elements in behavior modification.

In behavioral modification, ‘extinction’ systematically reduces previously reinforced behavior by taking away the reinforcers or stimuli for that behavior, ultimately aiming to eliminate the behavior. In the process of extinction, an ‘extinction burst’ may occur. It is a temporary increase in the frequency, duration, and magnitude of a targeted behavior and it usually happens during the initial phase of the extinction process.

An example of ‘extinction burst’ can be seen from a child who threw a tantrum to let one’s parents buy them a toy no longer receives the toy even when he tantrums. To get the toy from the parents, the child will throw tantrum for a longer period (increase in duration) or burst out crying (increase in magnitude). The parents may get an impression that the child’s undesirable behavior has worsened, however, it is a natural phenomenon that happens in the process of extinction as the reinforcers are eliminated. Meanwhile, the parents should be aware not to provide the reinforcers (e.g. buying a toy to stop the child’s intensified temper tantrum) because it may lead to an ‘intermittent reinforcement’ which may rather strengthen the targeted behavior in the extinction process.

The Tree Group uses various behavioral therapeutic techniques including extinction to effectively improve symptoms of ASD, ADHD, aggression, and emotional dysregulation in many psychiatric disorders. The Tree Group’s Behavior Modification Program is performed by behavior modification experts based on the latest academic literature in psychology. Please refer to the following page for further details of the program:


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