DRO Contingency Worksheet

DRO Contingency Worksheet

PSY 420

University of Phoenix Material

DRO Contingency Worksheet

Decide which of the following concepts are most applicable to each scenario: differential reinforcement of other behavior, avoidance contingency, punishment by prevention of reinforcer, punishment by loss of reinforcer, or avoidance of loss.

Defend your answer 175 words each, using citations as needed.

Sally, a 13-year-old teenager, is tired of having her mom nag her about her bedroom. Her mom nags about the clothes on the floor, the bed being unmade, and the trashcan spilling over in her bathroom. Sally comes home from school in a bad mood and the last thing she wants to hear is her mom’s nagging voice. To get around the expected response from her mom, she cleans her room, makes her bed, and empties her trashcan.

In this scenario, Sally has experienced her mother nagging in the past as Sally has left her clothes on the floor, doesn’t make her bed and doesn’t empty the bathroom trash can causing garbage to spill over onto the floor. Because of this previous experience of nagging from her mom, Sally wants to avoid hearing her mother nag at her as Sally is already in a poor mood herself. To avoid the nagging response from her mom, Sally chooses to clean her room, make her bed and empty the bathroom garbage can thus avoiding the nagging. According to the definition in Malott and Shane (2014), this is an example of Avoidance Contingency as Sally learned that she could prevent the presentation of the aversive stimulus simply by cleaning her room, making her bed, picking up the clothes and emptying the trash can. All before her mother has the chance even to ask Sally to complete these chores. Once Sally learns that she can avoid the stimulus by changing her behaviors, this reinforces her to change the unwanted behavior by her mother to prevent aversive stimuli, which is her mother’s nagging. According to Malott and Shane (2014), “the more immediate the aversive condition, the more effective is the avoidance contingency” (p.251).

Sally makes the 7th-grade track team by finishing before another girl by less than 0.05 seconds in her event—the 400 meter relay. Sally is proud of making the team but needs to work harder in the practices that follow. The first track meet does not go well. Out of the four girls on the relay team, she has the slowest time, so her track coach removes her from the team, and makes her sit as an alternate.

In this scenario, Sally makes the track team when she completes a relay time that beat another girl, ultimately earning Sally, her position on the team for competition. Because Sally earned this spot, she is proud of herself but fully understands she must work hard to keep this place. Unfortunately, Sally failed to perform at a higher standard during the first track meet, and she receives the lowest time causing her to lose her starting position on the team and can only sit on the sidelines as an alternate and watch. According to Malott and Shane (2014), “This is a form of punishment-punishment by the loss of reinforcer (negative punishment)” (p.80). Punishment by Loss of Reinforcer explains that the penalty removes something that the individual previously had. Sally already had earned the starting position on the relay team, and when, she did not perform well enough, she lost this position. This punishment is meant to reinforce Sally to work harder and push herself to earn her starting position back and reinforce her behaviors to promote herself, also teaching Sally that nothing is free, you have to work for it.

In the weeks that follow being pulled from the track team, Sally listens to her coach’s direction and works hard to qualify for the next meet. Running her fastest time ever, Sally is excited when she qualifies to run the relay for the third track meet. Now that she has earned her spot on the team, she continues to work hard every week to keep her place.

Through the weeks that Sally was forced to sit out as an alternate, Sally chose to utilize the coach’s advice as well as the reinforcement to take back her rightful starting position. Sally was able to accomplish this task through the Avoidance of Loss Reinforcement. According to Malott and Shane (2014), “a response becomes more frequent in the future if it has prevented the loss of a reinforcer in the past” (p. 253). In this case, Sally knows that if she does not work hard consistently and work hard to be better every day, she will lose her position again that she worked so hard to earn back. The excitement Sally feels in gaining her spot back along with earning her best time ever, reinforces her to avoid losing this starting position on the track team which is why the avoidance of loss reinforcement is most appropriate for this scenario. As Sally has the spot to begin with, her fear of losing the spot again forces her to work harder and harder also reinforcing that it takes hard work to keep what you have along with showing her how easy it can be to lose what she earned if she slacks off or doesn’t continue working hard for herself and the team. The last thing Sally wants is to be out as an alternate watching the others complete, thus she avoids this loss.

Chad is a 45-year-old man going back to school while working full time. A self-proclaimed procrastinator, his job as a computer programmer can handle his laid back style and ever-changing deadlines. In school, however, he is having difficulty turning his homework in on time. The teacher has told him that success is impossible if he does not turn his papers in on time, yet he fails to do so week after week.

Being a self-proclaimed procrastinator means you are aware that you are waiting until the last minute and aware there may be consequences or punishments if you do not complete your work on time. In this situation, Chad is a mature adult who has a job which allows him to be laid back and also face continuously changing deadlines, due dates are not concreate. Due to the relaxed professional environment, Chad feels it appropriate to treat his school environment the same. Chad has reinforced his own behavior through procrastination and turning work in late which has warranted the instructor to warn Chad. According to Malott and Shane (2014), a response is contingent on the prevention reinforcement, reinforcement is the failure of the class and the teacher warns Chad to turn in his work on time or, he will suffer the consequences and success will not occur. Impossible success is the aversive stimuli and the reinforcer is knowing that he will fail. The scenario supports the Punishment by Prevention of Reinforcement. The punishment by prevention of reinforcement will result in a decreases frequency of that response (Malott & Shane, 2014). This should increase the chances that Chad will turn in his assignment on time and decrease the procrastination.

Chad continues to stay in school and is a B-minus student due to the procrastination aspect of his work ethic. He has been complaining lately about school and thinking about withdrawing. His comments about the teacher, the class, the work and his grades are starting to get annoying so his mom decides to only reinforce his verbal behavior every 5 minutes he talks to her without making a negative comment about school.

For Chad, he feels that venting negative statements about school to his mother is going to somehow make him feel better. However, his mother finds this behavior extremely annoying. Instead of saying something negative back to Chad, his mother desires to reinforce the behavior using Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior method. According to Malott and Shane (2014), after a fixed interval of time when a reinforcer is presented, this explains the differential reinforcement of other behavior. In this case, Chad’s mother only responds after five minutes when Chad speaks negatively. As Chad’s mom desires for him to cease speaking negatively, she responds in fixed intervals of five minutes with zero response during the five minutes of conversation. Chad is not taking responsibility for his choices or actions and can only blame himself for his lower grade due to his procrastination and turning in assignment late. Rather than point out this fact, his mother choses to reinforce the behaviors using other behaviors which is to not respond. By changing her behavior and using other behavior to reinforce Chad’s behavior, she should be able to decrease his negative communication about school.


Malott, R. W., & Shane, J. T. (2014).  Principles of behavior (7th ed.). London, England: Taylor & Francis. Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection Database.