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The coercion cycle has been studied at length and what we know is that negative behavior persists (and often gets worse) because of random reinforcement. Meaning, sometimes the student gets something good and sometimes they get something bad. Think about gambling on a slot machine. I put money in, press a button or pull a level, and sometimes I get a pay out, and sometimes I just loose my money. I keep putting money into the machine because there is always a chance that I might get what I want. The slot machine is providing random reinforcement and I am willing to gamble on the chance that I might get a pay out. Kids operate in a similar fashion. If they think there is a chance that they will get attention or get out of something they may gamble on it.

Patterson, G. R. (1980). Treatment for children with conduct problems: A review of outcome studies. In S. Feshback & A. Fraczek (Eds.), Aggression and behavior change, New York: Praeger.
Patterson, G. R. (1982). Coercive family process. Eugene, OR: Castalia Publishing Co.
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