Has there been any research showing that when an alternate reward is provided it is effective in helping to break the drive for the original reward/desire ?

Someone taking my Why is Change so Hard? course, had a question.  That question - is kind of geeky - and involves understanding rewards, alternate rewards and so forth. That's why I'm posting it here. 

Yes - that's actually pretty standard protocol and it does make eliminating the old behavior easier.  Basically - you stop rewarding the old behavior and simultaneously reward the desired new behavior.  You still have the resistance, but it's less.

An example would be - if you had a rat that pressed a lever to get a treat.  If you simply make the lever not work - the rat will escalate and blow out.  If you give them an alternate way to get a treat, they will experience less stress and it will make the transition more smooth.

Another example - if you have a cat that is scratching furniture - unless you give them a scratching post - you aren't going to eliminate the scratching behavior - because it's something that they NEED to do. So - you reward them positively for scratching in the appropriate place.

With humans - it works the same.  Positively reward the alternate behavior, and remove the reward for the unwanted behavior.

Here is a link to google scholar on rewarding alternate behavior.  The 2nd citation is about rats. LOL https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0,10&qsp=2&q=reinforcement+of+alternative+behavior&qst=br

Here is an example of relevant research 

Examined the course of extinction of 1 behavior as a function of the presence and subsequent absence of reinforcement for alternative behavior. 4 experiments were conducted, using a total of 102 male hooded rats in 3 experiments and 30 adult White Carneaux pigeons in the 4th. Major findings are: (a) Topography and reinforcement schedule for alternative behavior had little differential effect. (b) High-frequency reinforcement of alternative behavior increased suppressive effects of extinction, and low-frequency reinforcement did not. (c) Reinforced alternative behavior maintained for a relatively long period decreased subsequent recovery of the original response programed for extinction, resulting in a substantial saving in total number of extinction responses. (d) Temporary reinforcement of alternative behavior produced more permanent suppression in the context of simple extinction than in the context of SD (change in stimulus) periods in discrimination learning. (17 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Take the course - or get the book and learn more

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