Definition: A process by which a response that has been learned is weakened by the absence or removal of reinforcement.

Quite Simply...

  • The reduction of a conditioned response due to the absence of the unconditioned stimulus.
  • When the strength of a conditioned response is diminished and eventually eradicated due to the absence of a prompting stimulus.

Examples of Extinction

  • Classical Conditioning extinction
  • Operant Conditioning extinction
  • "Lemon Powder Day": after a while your mouth doesn't tingle/salivate after hearing the word (neutral stimulus).
  • A dog hears a doorbell (CS), but no one ever comes through the doors (removal of unconditioned stimulus), so the dog stops its response of barking and bouncing around.
  • Your brothers go back to playing video games during weekdays because your parents stop reminding/telling them not to play.
  • A recently divorced person starts wearing sweats as soon as they get home because there's no one there to be dressed up for.
  • Little Albert no longer fears fuzzy white things decades after Dr. Watson stopped making loud noises in the presence of white things.
  • In classical conditioning the example given is extinction training the dog to salivate when food was brought out and the tone of the bell was heard. Extinction would occur if the person training the dog did not ring the bell when serving food to the dog anymore. The dog would then learn to not respond to the tone of a bell because of extinction taking place causing the dog to not salivate.

Pavlov's Dogs

"Pavlov showed the existence of the unconditioned response by presenting a dog with a bowl of food and the measuring its salivary secretions.Pavlov knew that somehow, the dogs in his lab had learned to associate food with his lab assistant. This must have been learned, because at one point the dogs did not do it, and there came a point where they started, so their behavior had changed. A change in behavior of this type must be the result of learning."

Extinction occurred when the dogs stopped salivating after no longer being presented with food after the bell.

See Also...