Applied behavior analysis as a treatment for disruptive behavior

Erin S. Petscher, Anibal Gutierrez, David A. Wilder

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Today’s behavior analysis methodology focuses on first the identification of variables that influence an individual’s disruptive behavior, then on the creation of a personalized treatment aimed at modifying those variables to reduce the unwanted responses. Behavior analysis has been successfully used to reduce disruptive behavior in many studies, Therefore, this chapter provides a review of the literature to identify best practices given common characteristics of the preliminary contingencies. The present chapter includes an overview of pretreatment assessments utilized to create individualized treatments, as well as a description of specific approaches to altering disruptive behavior contingencies. Common techniques used to decrease disruptive behavior included (a) modifying motivating operations, (b) extinction, (c) differential reinforcement, and (d) non-function based treatments. Motivating operations have been adjusted to decrease aversiveness of tasks that produce avoidance-related disruptions. Extinction attempts to eliminate socially mediated consequences as well as those disruptions maintained by automatic reinforcement. Differential reinforcement has been used to alter the contingency from reinforcing the inappropriate behavior to bolstering the desired one. Finally, when function-based treatments are ineffective or unavailable, various alternate consequences have been employed to overpower the natural contingency. Techniques used to ensure proper generalization are also reviewed in this chapter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Psychology Research, Volume 67
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781617619656
ISBN (Print)9781607418177
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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