Reducing aggressive and self-injurious behavior of institutionalized retarded children through reinforcement of other behaviors

J Appl Behav Anal. Summer 1974;7(2):313-25. doi: 10.1901/jaba.1974.7-313.


Aggressive and self-injurious behaviors of four retarded children were reduced by combining various techniques with the differential reinforcement of other behaviors (DRO). In one study, aggressive responses of a severely retarded child were reduced when DRO was combined with a 30-sec timeout. In a second study, various aggressive classroom behaviors were reduced when the child was told "no" for an inappropriate response but earned puzzle pieces for periods of time when inappropriate responses resulted did not occur. Exchangeable tokens were given to a third subject for every 15 min in which aggressive responding did not occur, while each inappropriate response resulted in the loss of all tokens accrued. Responding was decreased to a level far below baseline. For a fourth child, self-injurious responses were followed by "no", and intervals of time in which no self-injurious responding occurred earned candy. The rate of this behavior reduced significantly. In each case, the DRO procedure combined with the other techniques proved to be manageable for the teacher and successful in reducing the inappropriate behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aggression*
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Child
  • Child, Institutionalized*
  • Education of Intellectually Disabled*
  • Female
  • Food
  • Georgia
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Male
  • Punishment
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Reinforcement, Verbal
  • Reward
  • Self Mutilation / prevention & control*
  • Social Isolation
  • Time Factors