Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

pp 626-627

Extinction Burst

  • Robert WalrathAffiliated withRivier College




Extinction burst refers to the phenomenon of a previously reinforced or learned behavior temporarily increasing when the reinforcement for the behavior is removed. Learning theory suggests the organism is increasing the frequency of the behavior in an attempt to regain the original reinforcement for the behavior. In the absence of additional reinforcement, the behavior will diminish to lower (pre-extinction burst) levels and eventual cessation.

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