Transitions with nonhuman animals are typically framed as inescapable changes in signaled reinforcement schedules that result in a pause in responding unique to switches from rich to lean schedules. Pausing is considered to be a function of the aversive qualities of the contrasting reinforcement schedules. Transitions are typically framed in applied research as physical changes in location that evoke problem behavior maintained by the escape of an aversive event or resumption of a preferred event. We attempted to extend the basic framing of transitions to behaviors and contexts of social significance and evaluate a novel treatment for the problem of dawdling by 3 boys who had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder during rich‐to‐lean transitions. Dawdling during physical transitions was most readily observed when transitioning to lean contexts in Experiment 1. We then shortened transition duration in Experiment 2 by programming unsignaled and probabilistic rich reinforcement in the upcoming context.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
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