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ERIC Number: EJ889228
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 14
ISSN: ISSN-0021-8855
Progressive-Ratio Schedules and Applied Behavior Analysis
Poling, Alan
Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, v43 n2 p347-349 Sum 2010
Establishing appropriate relations between the basic and applied areas of behavior analysis has been of long and persistent interest to the author. In this article, the author illustrates that there is a direct relation between how hard an organism will work for access to an object or activity, as indexed by the largest ratio completed under a progressive-ratio (PR) schedule (the "breaking point") and the potency of the reinforcer. In this discussion, the author uses cocaine and methylphenidate as sample agents which can increase breaking points to human and rats, respectively. The author explores whether the drug increases the reinforcing potency of food and act as an establishing operation (EO), as suggested by PR breaking points, or decrease it and act as an abolishing operation (AO), as suggested by craving and consumption. The author concludes that, of course, the effects of drugs on PR responding and other aspects of behavior may reflect a mechanism other than altered reinforcer effectiveness, but the point is clear: PR schedules do not provide an uncontaminated index of the effects of drugs or other independent variables on reinforcer potency. He added that as the examples of cocaine and methylphenidate illustrate, the apparent potency of a reinforcer may depend on the general procedure used to measure it.
Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. Available from: Department of Applied Behavioral Science. Kansas University, 1000 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66045-2133. Tel: 785-841-4425; Fax: 785-841-4425; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A