The search for robust and durable interventions in everyday situations typically involves the use of delayed reinforcers, sometimes delivered well after a target behavior occurs. Integrating the findings from laboratory research on delayed reinforcement can contribute to the design and analysis of those applied interventions. As illustrations, we examine articles from the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior that analyzed delayed reinforcement with respect to response allocation (A. M. Williams & Lattal, 1999), stimulus chaining (B. A. Williams, 1999), and self-control (Jackson & Hackenberg, 1996). These studies help to clarify the conditions under which delayed reinforcement (a) exercises control of behavior, (b) entails conditioned reinforcement, and (c) displaces the effects of immediate reinforcement. The research has applied implications, including the development of positive social behavior and teaching people to make adaptive choices.
- Delayed reinforcement
- Integration of basic and applied research
- Response allocation
- Stimulus chains