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Document Type

Article

Abstract

Resurgence may be defined generally as the extinctioninduced
recurrence of previously learned response patterns.
Understanding the conditions under which this phenomenon
occurs has theoretical, clinical, and applied implications,
particularly with respect to a related area of research on responseclass
hierarchies. In the current study, we examined resurgence
with 2 participants who exhibited response-class hierarchies
consisting of various topographies of severe problem behavior
maintained by positive reinforcement. Baseline levels of
responding were maintained by brief access to tangible items. In a
second condition, reinforcement was produced by an alternative
topography of severe problem behavior, and the initial topography
was extinguished concurrently. When the reinforcement
contingency for alternative behavior was removed, previously
reinforced topographies recovered. This resurgence was specific
to behavior that recently produced the reinforcer, which suggests
that the recovery was not simply extinction-induced variation or
emotional responding. The clinical implications of the results are
discussed and related to results that have been produced in the
laboratory by a variety of methods.

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