Variables of Reinforcer Effectiveness

Variable Definition
Deprivation Having limited access to the reinforcer. Deprivation increases the value of the reinforcer.
Immediacy The reinforcer is delivered as quickly as possible following the target behavior. The faster the reinforcer is given the more effective it will be. Aim for ½ a second!
Size The size/amount of the reinforcer is “worth” the effort required to get it. IF the reinforcer is too small it may not be enough to increase the likelihood of the behavior. IF the reinforcer is too big  the person may no longer want the reinforcer and it loses its value.
Contingency  The only way to get the reinforcer is to exhibit the target behavior. If you can gain access to the reinforcer in another way (with less effort or a way that has been successful previously) what motivation do you have do it the targeted way?

DISC- Forgot the S.pngdeprivation


I will not play Minecraft for hours looking for diamonds (yes, diamonds ARE a girls best friend)

Fortunately, Diamonds are not contingent upon hours of gameplay. I can go to the menu, switch over img_2547to creative mode, and get an unlimited access to all the building materials in the game. One point for size and another point for immediacy! However, I’m
then faced with the dilemma of Deprivation. Because I have
unlimited access to the
ore, I become satiated. Who cares that I made a diamond helmet…. The entire castle is made of diamond. It is good to remember that it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

At the end of the day, I still play Minecraft. The reinforcer is not too small and I can gain access to it immediately (when I want). I can also use deprivation and force myself to seek out the ore with endless hours of virtual physical labor. And, in all honesty, my goal of having a house crafted from diamond is contingent upon playing Minecraft. A perfect example of the variables of reinforcer effectiveness at work. Well played Mojang.


  • If all of a sudden your “reinforcer” no longer works– double check the DISC. More often than not, I learned that my kiddo has found an easier way to obtain the reinforcer.
  • DISC also works with punishers. A boy washed his hands 11 times an hour. I set him on a schedule to wash his hands every 4 minutes. He quickly became satiated with washing his hands and the behavior dropped down to twice an hour.
  • Satiation is the opposite of deprivation. When you are satiated, you have more of the item than you want.