Can Positive Reinforcement Overcome Fear? An Investigation of Competing Contingencies

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Escape maintained behavior in dogs is generally displayed by one of two behaviors-fleeing or aggression. Once aggression is negatively reinforced by the removal of the aversive stimulus, it is very difficult to eliminate from the organism's repertoire. Counterconditioning is the process of pairing a positive reinforcer with an aversive stimulus in the attempts that an organism will no longer exhibit fear responses in its presence. This process must be done gradually with small approximations. Many organisms have been trained to tolerate the presence of aversive stimuli via counterconditioning. However, this process can be time consuming and has inconsistent results. The ... continued below

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Kunkel, Rebecca Ann August 2011.

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  • Kunkel, Rebecca Ann

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Escape maintained behavior in dogs is generally displayed by one of two behaviors-fleeing or aggression. Once aggression is negatively reinforced by the removal of the aversive stimulus, it is very difficult to eliminate from the organism's repertoire. Counterconditioning is the process of pairing a positive reinforcer with an aversive stimulus in the attempts that an organism will no longer exhibit fear responses in its presence. This process must be done gradually with small approximations. Many organisms have been trained to tolerate the presence of aversive stimuli via counterconditioning. However, this process can be time consuming and has inconsistent results. The purpose of this experiment was to monitor the effects of counter conditioning around an aversive stimulus while simultaneously training an identical behavior in the presence of a neutral stimulus. The results demonstrated that even though counterconditioning produced approach to the aversive stimulus the subject still exhibited numerous fear responses when results were compared to the control condition.

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  • August 2011

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  • May 17, 2012, 9:47 p.m.

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  • March 17, 2017, 11:03 a.m.

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Kunkel, Rebecca Ann. Can Positive Reinforcement Overcome Fear? An Investigation of Competing Contingencies, thesis, August 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc84232/: accessed October 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .