The effect of high magnitude reinforcement and reinforcer delay: A contingency management analog study
MetadataShow full item record
Substance abuse has severe implications for individuals, families, and communities. Contingency management (CM) is an empirically validated treatment for drug abuse and is an effective component of treatments for many types of substance use disorders. CM arranges consequences to increase desired behavior and decrease undesired behavior. In most cases this is accomplished through reinforcement of drug-abstinent behavior using vouchers, opportunity to win a prize, money, or earning clinical privileges. Reinforcer magnitude and reinforcer delay are two important factors which contribute to CM efficacy. Reinforcers with greater magnitude are generally associated with greater clinical efficacy. Delay to reinforcement is generally associated with poor outcomes in clinical settings. The current experiment used an analog model of CM for the treatment of drug abuse to study the effects of reinforcer magnitude and reinforcer delay on abstinence from drug use. It was predicted that there would be no effect of delay in the high magnitude condition, and that delay would be associated with a decrease in target behavior in the low magnitude condition. Results indicate that high magnitude of reinforcement, both with and without delay, is associated with higher rates of abstinence when compared with the rates of abstinence maintained by low magnitude of reinforcement. Delayed high magnitude reinforcement was associated with shorter intervals to relapse to smoking when compared to immediate high magnitude reinforcement. No effect of delay was detected in the low magnitude condition. Implications for CM based treatment of addiction are discussed.