Through operant conditioning we have learned that reinforces are used to strengthen a behavior. Those same behaviors can also be weekend though a process called extinction. Extinction “is the nonreinforcement of a previously reinforced response”. As a result of extinction, the probability of the behavior decreases until it does not occur any longer.
Once the correct reinforcer is discovered and eliminated, extinction will occur over time. There is a possibility that side effects will appear in the beginning, and it is important to note that they do not necessarily mean that the missing reinforcer was the wrong one. The first and most common side effect is called extinction burst. At first, when the behavior does not produce the normal response, the subject will react by performing the behavior more frequently and forcefully in an effort to make create the missing behavior.
Extinction causes increases in variability as well. When the behavior does not occur, the subject will do different things, such as using the other hand to press a button that delivers food, hoping to cause the desired outcome. When this tactic does not work, the subject suffers emotional behavior, mostly aggression. Animals and humans alike will often times act out by yelling or becoming more aggressive towards others, when the reinforcers are absent. Lastly, when nothing successfully stops the extinction, the subject may become depressed. “Depression following the loss of a major reinforcer should be regarded as a normal aspect of disengagement from that reinforcer.”
In the video, a young man exhibits extinction bursts that most of us have probably experienced (especially the soda machine!!).