Extinction ●      Discontinuation of reinforcement for a previously reinforced behavior

●      If successful, the frequency of the behavior decreases in the future.


Extinction Burst ●      Sudden increase in the frequency, duration, and magnitude of the behavior targeted for extinction.

●      The behavior is the same just BIGGER, LOUDER, HARDER

●      Occurs immediately after the extinction procedure is introduced


Extinction Induced Variability ●      Variations in response topography in an attempt to acquire reinforcement that targeted behavior used to produce.

●      May be previously learned or novel behaviors

●      May be problematic or desirable behaviors

●      A desirable behavior can be reinforced

Spontaneous Recovery ●      The reoccurrence of the behavior in the same or similar situation in the future.

●      Short-lived if the extinction procedure is still in effect.



  • Implementing Extinction and ignoring the client are not the same! Extinction = not reinforcing the problem behavior.
  • There are three different forms of extinction:
    • Extinction maintained by positive reinforcement (attention/ access extinction)
    • Extinction maintained by negative reinforcement (escape extinction)
    • Extinction maintained by automatic reinforcement (sensory extinction)
  • Each form of extinction is implemented differently.
  • Extinction burst almost always occurs. This means that you are doing it correctly.
  • It is important not to “give in” when using extinction procedure. This will reinforce the extinction burst and they will learn that they just need to tantrum harder to get what they want.



  • During recess, Eddie cries and shouts when he is left alone for more than a few minutes. After he cries and shouts, the teachers go over to him and ask if he is okay and what he wants. Today, the teachers decide to put the crying and screaming on extinction. When Eddie engages in the behavior, they do not go over to him (extinction procedure). Eddie cries louder, and shouts more (Extinction burst). The teachers do not go over to him. Eddie then starts to throw crayons, stomps his feet, and spins in circles (extinction-induced variability). They teachers do not come over. Eddie sits down and says that he feels lonely (extinction-induced variability). The teachers thank Eddie for using his words and sit with him for the remainder of recess. Now Eddie does not cry or shout when he wants attention (it was no longer reinforced), instead he uses his words to get attention. This is also an example of differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA).


  • Harry throws a tantrum (stomps feet, falls to floor, yells, and cries) when told it is time to do his homework. When Harry tantrums, Petunia sends him to the corner for “time-out”. After the time-out is over Harry does not have to do his homework. Because Harry is successful at escaping his homework, it is likely that this behavior will increase. Petunia decides to change her strategy. Instead of sending Harry on “time-out”, Petunia continues to insist that Harry do his homework when he tantrums (extinction procedure). Harry tantrums longer and stomps the floor harder than he has previously (extinction burst). Petunia continues to redirect Harry to his homework, no matter how long it takes. Harry breaks all of his pencils, dumps his backpack out, and kicks the kitchen chair (extinction-induced variability). Petunia presents Harry with another pencil and insist that he finish his homework. Harry grabs the homework and finishes it as quick as possible. Next time Petunia tells Harry to do his homework he does not tantrum, he does his homework right away. A month later Harry tantrums when Petunia tells him to do his homework (spontaneous recovery). Petunia follows the extinction procedure and Harry stops his tantrum and finishes his homework. The tantrum does not last very long and is not seen again for months.