In Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), the goal is to encourage positive behavior while reducing negative behavior by manipulating the consequences of those behaviors.
Differential reinforcement involves using positive reinforcement to increase the likelihood of desired behaviors while ignoring, punishing, or removing reinforcement for undesired behaviors. For example, if a child is engaging in undesirable behavior, such as hitting others, a behavior technician or therapist might ignore the behavior and instead provide positive reinforcement when the child engages in a desired behavior, such as sharing toys.
These are the different types of differential reinforcement in ABA training:
- DRA involves reinforcing a behavior that is an alternative to the undesired behavior.
For example, if a child is throwing objects, the therapist might reinforce the child for using their words to express their needs instead.
- DRI involves reinforcing a behavior that is incompatible with the undesired behavior.
For example, if a child is biting others, the therapist might reinforce the child for engaging in a behavior that is physically incompatible with biting, such as hugging.
- DRO involves reinforcing any behavior other than the undesired behavior.
For example, if a child is engaging in repetitive behavior, the therapist might reinforce the child for engaging in any other behavior, such as playing with a toy.
Differential reinforcement can be an effective technique for behavior change, as it focuses on promoting positive behavior while decreasing negative behavior. It is important to remember that differential reinforcement should be used in conjunction with other ABA techniques and under the guidance of a trained ABA therapist.