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By Mary Elizabeth Salzmann

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Sample text

The actual findings presented in the Rand Report were that some ‘alcoholics’ managed to abstain for lengthy periods (7 per cent had abstained for the full four years of the study), but so did some ‘alcoholics’ manage 24 THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ADDICTION to moderate their drinking for lengthy periods. The most common pattern however was one of repeated relapses into heavy drinking and this was true for those who attempted to abstain as well as for those who attempted to moderate their drinking (Armor, 1980).

Differences in behaviour are also apparent in relation to patterns of reinforcement. One very important finding is that partial reinforcement produces greater resistance to extinction than continuous 100 per cent reinforcement. That is, if a behaviour is rewarded each and every time it occurs, when the rewards cease, extinction will be speedy. However, if a behaviour is rewarded only intermittently, that behaviour will persist through many unrewarded trials. Gamblers are often cited to illustrate this point.

In this case, any music may come to elicit drinking, for example drinking at home while listening to compact discs. Again, discrimination training would be helpful in reducing the behaviour in question. Finally, the process of chaining is required to explain complex human behaviour. e. e. a conditioned reinforcer) for the preceding behaviour. For example, smoking a cigarette is a chain composed of buying a packet of cigarettes, taking a cigarette from the packet, lighting up, and inhaling the smoke.

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