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What is Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior (DRO)?

Differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) is a behavior change technique that involves reinforcing any behavior other than the undesired behavior. This type of reinforcement is useful when it is difficult to identify a specific alternative behavior to reinforce. Here are some examples of DRO:

  1. A child who engages in disruptive behavior in class may be reinforced for any behavior that is not disruptive, such as staying seated, raising their hand, or listening attentively.

  2. A person who bites their nails may be reinforced for any behavior that is not nail biting, such as playing with a stress ball, holding a pen, or using a fidget toy.

  3. A person with a shopping addiction may be reinforced for any behavior that does not involve shopping, such as going for a walk, reading a book, or engaging in a hobby.

In each of these examples, the individual is reinforced for engaging in any behavior other than the undesired behavior. Over time, this can lead to a reduction in the frequency of the undesired behavior.

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