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Response-Deprivation Hypothesis

The term “response-deprivation hypothesis” refers to a model for predicting whether or not one behavior will function as a reinforcement for another behavior. Restricting access to the one behavior would create a state of deprivation for access to that behavior which creates a situation where access to the deprived behavior acts as a potential reinforcer if the baseline data indicates that the behavior occurs at a higher rate than in the restricted state.  This concept builds upon the Premack’s concept. (Cooper, J., Heron, T., Heward, W., 2007, p.271).

As an example, let’s say Sally loves jumping on the trampoline.  It requires little effort and she enjoys it.  Sally, on the other hand, does not love doing homework.  It takes a lot of effort and she does not enjoy the work.  In this case, we can tell Sally that after she has done 2 pages of homework worksheets, she is allowed to jump on the trampoline for 3 minutes.  Given that she is only allowed to access the trampoline during these homework times, and no time other, access to jumping on the trampoline could potentially act as a reinforcer for the homework completion.

In the above example, it is very important that Sally can’t sneak trampoline jumping elsewhere and at other times.  If she sneaks it, that is called bootlegging, and will reduce the value of the jumping behavior since it is available outside of the homework opportunities to access it.

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