Title

Reinforcer Variation: A Narrative Review

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention

Volume

6

Publication Date

2012

First Page

86

Last Page

92

DOI

10.1080/17489539.2013.789338

Abstract

Reinforcers are known to lose their effectiveness over time. One strategy to prevent or delay a decrease in reinforcer effectiveness is reinforcer variation. That is, a reinforcer is selected by someone other than the respondent from an array of different reinforcers at each scheduled delivery. This is in contrast to delivering a single constant reinforcer for each reinforced response. Reinforcer variation has been examined in the applied literature and, overall, has had positive effects on preventing or delaying decrements in responding. However, inconsistent results of research investigations exist, and procedures for varying reinforcers differ between studies. Based on a narrative review of the existing literature, the exact mechanisms behind the effectiveness of reinforcer variation are still not known. In this narrative review we examine the applied literature on reinforcer variation, identify potential variables that may affect responding under conditions of varied reinforcers, and provide suggestions for future research.

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