This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

A Quantitative Analysis of Resurgence Following Downshifts in Alternative-Reinforcer Magnitude




Ritchey, Carolyn

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Psychological Sciences


Resurgence occurs when a previously reinforced and then extinguished target response increases due to changes in reinforcement conditions for an alternative response, including reductions in the magnitude of reinforcement for the alternative response. Using crowdsourcing, we conducted two experiments to extend prior empirical and theoretical work on alternative- reinforcer magnitude and resurgence. Consistent with predictions of the Resurgence as Choice in Context model (RaC2), resurgence of a target button press occurred with reductions in point gain for an alternative response, with greater reductions producing higher levels of resurgence (Experiment 1). In contrast to model predictions, alternating exposures to high and low point gain for the alternative response did not reduce the overall level of resurgence during testing with low point gain or extinction (Experiment 2). Although RaC2 accurately predicted higher levels of resurgence among groups experiencing greater reductions in alternative-reinforcer magnitude, the model consistently underpredicted and then overpredicted resurgence during tests with low-magnitude reinforcement. Overall, our findings suggest that RaC2 could be a useful framework for understanding resurgence in humans, but additional work will be required to improve how the model accounts for resurgence with downshifts in reinforcer magnitude.