Everyday, I help break down a confusing ABA term and put it in plain English! Whether you are studying for your BCBA exam, explaining ABA to parents or are a student, there is no reason to be so confused over ABA terms. While “behavioral language” is very confusing, these concepts don’t have to be.
Today we will break down automatic reinforcement:
According to Cooper, Heron and Heward, “automatic reinforcement Reinforcement that occurs independent of the social mediation of others (e.g., scratching an insect bite relieves the itch).”
Simply put, this means that a behavior itself automatically results in a desired outcome.
There are two types of automatic reinforcement: positive and negative.
Automatic positive reinforcement is when you do something that results in the desired outcome of something good being added. For example, you are hungry so YOU heat up food in the microwave. No other person was involved and the result of the behavior is the addition of food to eat. You want to hear music so YOU put music on. No other person was involved and the result of the behavior is you got music. The two key things to take away are: there is no other person involved and the behavior itself produced the result you were seeking of adding something you wanted.
Automatic negative reinforcement is when you do something that results in a desired outcome. For example, you have a hangover and the lights are giving you a headache so YOU get up and turn them off. No other person was involved. There is loud music playing and you don’t want to hear it so YOU get up and turn off the music. No other person was involved and the behavior itself resulted in your desired outcome of the music going off. The two key things to take away are: there is no other person involved and the behavior itself produced the result you were seeking of taking away something that was bothering you.
APA Citation: Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2019). Applied Behavior Analysis (3rd Edition). Hoboken, NJ: Pearson Education.