Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2024

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Master in Applied Behavior Analysis and Clinical Science


Health Professions

Committee Member(s)

Dr. Angie Campanale

Dr. Stephanie Kincaid

Dr. Rachelle Yankelevitz

Supervising Faculty Member

Dr. Kara Wunderlich


In practice, extinction is implemented to reduce a problem behavior by terminating reinforcement. It has historically been calculated by dividing the frequency of responses in a session by the total duration of the session. When calculated this way, the data appear as a sharp increasing trend before a downward trend begins. This is referred to as an extinction burst and is often expected to decrease with consistent implementation by practitioners who say, “It must get worse before it gets better”. The motivating operation to respond would be low for a participant who is currently receiving reinforcement. Due to this reasoning, during reinforcement or consumption time the rate of responding decreases. The current study compared two response rate calculations: one which includes consumption time in the total session duration and one which excludes consumption time in the total session time for extinction procedures. The hypothesis was that either calculation would have an effect on the rate of responding. Specifically, when the calculation which excludes consumption time is used, the rate of responding will be higher than when the calculation which includes consumption time is used. The purpose of this study was to show that if consumption time was removed from the equation, extinction bursts would occur at a lower percentage than practitioners think. The two calculations were compared to determine the prevalence of extinction bursts.

Keywords: denominator, duration, extinction, extinction burst, intervene, maladaptive, reinforce, trend

Rights Holder

Madison Holland