A model of resurgence based on behavioral momentum theory.

Timothy A. Shahan, Mary M. Sweeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Resurgence is the reappearance of an extinguished behavior when an alternative behavior reinforced during extinction is subsequently placed on extinction. Resurgence is of particular interest because it may be a source of relapse to problem behavior following treatments involving alternative reinforcement. In this article we develop a quantitative model of resurgence based on the augmented model of extinction provided by behavioral momentum theory. The model suggests that alternative reinforcement during extinction of a target response acts as both an additional source of disruption during extinction and as a source of reinforcement in the context that increases the future strength of the target response. The model does a good job accounting for existing data in the resurgence literature and makes novel and testable predictions. Thus, the model appears to provide a framework for understanding resurgence and serves to integrate the phenomenon into the existing theoretical account of persistence provided by behavioral momentum theory. In addition, we discuss some potential implications of the model for further development of behavioral momentum theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-108
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the experimental analysis of behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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