The Effects of InterpolatedReinforcement on Resistance to Extinction in Children Diagnosed with Autism: APreliminary Investigation
Research in Developmental Disabilities
Studies on the “interpolation of reinforcement” effect (IRE) suggest that switching from an intermittent (INT) to a continuous (CRF) reinforcement schedule may result in less resistance to extinction than if extinction had followed INT alone. The finding has been examined with both human and animal participants using both free- and restricted-operant research preparations with equivocal results. In the present study, the IRE was examined in four young children diagnosed with autism using a free-operant preparation. Participants were matched into pairs and were exposed, in a counterbalanced order, to extinction following CRF “interpolated” between INT and extinction, and to extinction following INT alone. Resistance to extinction was examined by comparing the number of responses emitted during extinction and the number of sessions required to reach an extinction criterion. Responding may be less resistant to extinction following interpolated CRF reinforcement than following INT alone. Methodological refinements necessary for more conclusively demonstrating the IRE are discussed.
Higbee, T.S., Carr, J.E., & Patel, M.R. (2002). The effects of interpolated reinforcement on resistance to extinction in children diagnosed with autism: A preliminary investigation. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 23, 61-78.