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NCR: Noncontingent Reinforcement

Noncontingent Reinforcement Part 1: Overview
by Gabriel Gafner at ABA Connect

Noncontingent Reinforcement (NCR) is the presentation of a reinforcer, independent of the presence of a specific behavior. The learner receives reinforcement on a set schedule instead of for a positive response.

The classic example is of a student sitting in the front of the classroom, next to the teacher. The student is receiving consistent reinforcement in the form of attention without “earning” it. This would reduce the instances of challenging behavior that are normally exhibited to earn attention.

A second example is if I decide to buy myself a McFlurry (MnM, obviously) because I wanted to treat myself and I did so independently of having done anything to earn it, this would be NCR. Conversely, if I told myself that I would buy myself a new video game after cleaning the house this would not be NCR because I earned the video game contingent on cleaning the house.

Another way to think about it is that reinforcement is normally dependent on the presence of a behavior. NCR is therefore not dependent (not contingent) on any behavior.

In a clinical setting NCR is delivered on a set schedule that is setup to deliver reinforcement frequently enough that the learner is no longer motivated to engage in the problem behavior that is getting them that reinforcer.

In our next blog post we will look at more applications of NCR and some important considerations to keep in mind.

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