Behavioural psychology

Tim went to school each day in a van that picked him up from the group home. Almost every morning, Tim refused to get on the van. Staff members talked to him and eventually convinced him to get on the van, but it took at least a few minutes each time. The staff analyzed the situation and decided that they were reinforcing Tim’s behavior of refusing to get on the van with their attention as they talked him into getting on each morning. They decided to use an extinction procedure in which they would ask Tim one time to get on the van, and then they would not provide any further attention if he refused to get on. If Tim did get on the van when he was asked, staff members would provide substantial attention and praise. With the consent of the school, the van driver agreed to wait as long as it took until Tim finally agreed to get on the van. The only exception would be on the one day a week when there were special events at school and they could not wait. On those days, they would have to talk Tim into getting on the van sooner.

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