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Non-contingent positive attention

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What is it?

Non-contingent positive attention involves providing positive attention e.g. standing near the student, thumbs up, making a positive comment at regular intervals regardless of the student's performance. Providing a rich environment with positive attention can increase students' engagement and participation in learning. This is different to contingent reinforcement where the reinforcer is provided based (contingent) on behaviour.

How do I use it?

  1. Keep a discrete tally of how frequently behaviours occur.
  2. Create a schedule for the frequency of non-contingent positive attention. The scheduled frequency of delivery will be greater than the frequency of behaviour recorded in Step 1. For example, if a student engages in a behaviour five times in 30 mins then the schedule will be at least six times in 30 mins.
  3. Create a list of positive attention strategies that the student finds reinforcing. Varying the type of positive attention maintains the value of the attention. 
  4. Identify the time intervals to deliver the positive attention e.g. every five minutes.
  5. Provide positive, non-contingent attention prior to the student engaging in any disruptive behaviours and continue to provide this attention according to the predetermined schedule.
  6. Once the behaviour occurs less frequently, gradually reduce the number of times per 30 mins the student receives the positive attention. It is important that the student, and all students in the class, continue to receive positive attention at a reduced frequency.
Additional information

This strategy is often used together with Differential reinforcement.

Age group

This is appropriate for the following age groups:

PreschoolYes
P-2Yes
3-6Yes
High schoolYes

Where can I learn more?

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Last updated 24 September 2020