Unit 3 Activity: Critique the Differential Reinforcement Procedure
Directions: For the scenario below, critique the use of the differential reinforcement procedure being used (e.g., are all components of the procedure being implemented correct, are all guidelines for effective use being followed, are there are ethical violations, etc.). Specify at least two aspects of the procedure that are correct, two aspects that need to be improved or modified and give a brief rational as to why. Next provide specific recommendations for addressing any of the guidelines that are not being followed.
Donald is a behavior analyst working in an in-patient hospital for individuals who emit high magnitude problem behavior. One of Donald’s new clients frequently engages in aggressive behavior towards the hospital staff members and other patients, and also displays disruptive behavior that includes breaking hospital properly and throwing items that are not meant to be thrown. Donald’s assessment has revealed that the client’s behavior has a function of socially mediated positive reinforcement in the form of attention and reactions from other individuals. These occurrences of, and attempts to, emit aggressive behavior occur between 9 and 15 times per hour for anywhere between 100 and 160 times per day. During his observations of the client, Donald has notice that most people tend to avoid the client, seemingly for fear of his behavior, and the client has few interactions with others save for those that are absolutely necessary. Because of his behavior, Donald has two hospital staff members with him at all times, though their main responsibilities are to keep everyone safe and they keep their interactions with the client to a minimum. Donald has also seen that the client’s aggressive behavior is more likely to occur after long periods without any peer or adult interaction. Donald has mentioned this to the hospital staff, though they reply that they will not increase their interactions until the client’s behavior has been reduced to more manageable levels. According to the client’s self-report and interviews with the his caregivers, the client does enjoy spending time with other people, especially when talking about or watching baseball.
To reduce the occurrence of the client’s aggressive behavior, Donald develops a plan in which the client will receive tokens based on his behavior. The client receives 1 token for every 5 positive interactions he has with another individual (e.g., saying good morning, asking how someone’s day is going, delivering praise to someone else). Once the client receives 20 tokens, he can exchange them in the hospital store for some of his preferred items and activities. In order to provide more opportunity to earn tokens, the plan also stipulates that the client can receive 1 token for every hour he goes without engaging in any aggressive or disruptive behavior. This procedures is implemented across the client’s entire day during all settings and activities he participates in. The client has never seen or used tokens before, and even though Donald explained how he can earn them and that they can be traded in for things he likes, the client seems relatively uninterested in the tokens or trying to earn them. So far, these are the only interventions in place for the client’s problem behavior, and after 2 months of implementation they do not seem to be effective.