Behavior Modification and extinction
Getting rid of a behavior forever? Then you need to understand the behavioral principle of extinction. The first part of the principle of extinction is a behavior that was previously engaged in no longer receives reinforcement. The second part of the principle is a person will be less likely to engage in a behavior again once reinforcement has been stopped. For example, if you get attention every time you complain about work to your spouse and all of a sudden your spouse refused to listen to or respond to your complaining then eventually you will stop complaining about work to your spouse. The most important component of this principle is that the person must no longer receive reinforcement or in other words, what they wanted from a behavior in order for the behavior to become extinct. The problem that many people run into when getting rid of a behavior is that once the behavior is reinforced it becomes increasingly difficult to extinguish. You must also be aware of extinction burst, this simply means that the person will increase the behavior, in other words, the behavior will get worse before it gets better. Some people become aggressive before they give up a behavior. Just think about that vending machine that takes your money, do you just walk away at first? No, you will push more buttons, possibly shake the machine, and you might have a few choice words for the machine before you finally give up on the behavior of trying to get your item from the vending machine.
An extinction program requires a lot of patience and is not designed for every behavior. For example, a behavior that causes injury to the individual or others may not be a good candidate for extinction. Just imagine someone who bangs her or his head until bleeding occurs, this might not be the type of behavior that you would want to allow to get worse before it gets better because of the potential for the person to become seriously injured.
Martin, G. & Pear, J. (2011). Behavior modification: What it is and how to do it (9th Ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.