Resurgence of target responding does not exceed increases in inactive responding in a forced-choice alternative reinforcement procedure in humans

Mary M. Sweeney, Timothy A. Shahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Resurgence following removal of alternative reinforcement has been studied in non-human animals, children with developmental disabilities, and typically functioning adults. Adult human laboratory studies have included responses without a controlled history of reinforcement, included only two response options, or involved extensive training. Arbitrary responses allow for control over history of reinforcement. Including an inactive response never associated with reinforcement allows the conclusion that resurgence exceeds extinction-induced variability. Although procedures with extensive training produce reliable resurgence, a brief procedure with the same experimental control would allow more efficient examination of resurgence in adult humans. We tested the acceptability of a brief, single-session, three-alternative forced-choice procedure as a model of resurgence in undergraduates. Selecting a shape was the target response (reinforced in Phase I), selecting another shape was the alternative response (reinforced in Phase II), and selecting a third shape was never reinforced. Despite manipulating number of trials and probability of reinforcement, resurgence of the target response did not consistently exceed increases in the inactive response. Our findings reiterate the importance of an inactive control response and call for reexamination of resurgence studies using only two response options. We discuss potential approaches to generate an acceptable, brief human laboratory resurgence procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-92
Number of pages13
JournalBehavioural Processes
Volume124
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Forced-choice
  • Human
  • Mouse click
  • Operant conditioning
  • Relapse
  • Resurgence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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