NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ935108
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Aug
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0023-9690
Sub-Optimal Choice by Pigeons: Failure to Support the Allais Paradox
Zentall, Thomas R.; Stagner, Jessica P.
Learning and Motivation, v42 n3 p245-254 Aug 2011
Pigeons show a preference for an alternative that provides them with discriminative stimuli (sometimes a stimulus that predicts reinforcement and at other times a stimulus that predicts the absence of reinforcement) over an alternative that provides them with nondiscriminative stimuli, even if the nondiscriminative stimulus alternative is associated with 2.5 times as much reinforcement (Stagner & Zentall, 2010). In Experiment 1 we found that the delay to reinforcement associated with the nondiscriminative stimuli could be reduced by almost one half before the pigeons were indifferent between the two alternatives. In Experiment 2 we tested the hypothesis that the preference for the discriminative stimulus alternative resulted from the fact that, like humans, the pigeons were attracted by the stimulus that consistently predicted reinforcement (the Allais paradox). When the probability of reinforcement associated with the discriminative stimulus that predicted reinforcement was reduced from 100% to 80% the pigeons still showed a strong preference for the discriminative stimulus alternative. Thus, under these conditions, the Allais paradox cannot account for the sub-optimal choice behavior shown by pigeons. Instead we propose that sub-optimal choice results from positive contrast between the low expectation of reinforcement associated with the discriminative stimulus alternative and the much higher obtained reinforcement when the stimulus associated with reinforcement appears. We propose that similar processes can account for sub-optimal gambling behavior by humans. (Contains 6 figures.)
Elsevier. 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL 32887-4800. Tel: 877-839-7126; Tel: 407-345-4020; Fax: 407-363-1354; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A