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ERIC Number: EJ941333
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Sep
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 34
ISSN: ISSN-0022-5002
Examining the Discriminative and Strengthening Effects of Reinforcers in Concurrent Schedules
Boutros, Nathalie; Elliffe, Douglas; Davison, Michael
Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, v96 n2 p227-241 Sep 2011
Reinforcers may increase operant responding via a response-strengthening mechanism whereby the probability of the preceding response increases, or via some discriminative process whereby the response more likely to provide subsequent reinforcement becomes, itself, more likely. We tested these two accounts. Six pigeons responded for food reinforcers in a two-alternative switching-key concurrent schedule. Within a session, equal numbers of reinforcers were arranged for responses to each alternative. Those reinforcers strictly alternated between the two alternatives in half the conditions, and were randomly allocated to the alternatives in half the conditions. We also varied, across conditions, the alternative that became available immediately after a reinforcer. Preference after a single reinforcer always favored the immediately available alternative, regardless of the local probability of a reinforcer on that alternative (0 or 1 in the strictly alternating conditions, 0.5 in the random conditions). Choice then reflected the local reinforcer probabilities, suggesting some discriminative properties of reinforcement. At a more extended level, successive same-alternative reinforcers from an alternative systematically shifted preference towards that alternative, regardless of which alternative was available immediately after a reinforcer. There was no similar shift when successive reinforcers came from alternating sources. These more temporally extended results may suggest a strengthening function of reinforcement, or an enhanced ability to respond appropriately to "win-stay" contingencies over "win-shift" contingencies. (Contains 1 table and 7 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A