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ERIC Number: EJ998522
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0738-6729
Operant Variability: A Conceptual Analysis
Barba, Lourenco de Souza
Behavior Analyst, v35 n2 p213-227 Fall 2012
Some researchers claim that variability is an operant dimension of behavior. The present paper reviews the concept of operant behavior and emphasizes that differentiation is the behavioral process that demonstrates an operant relation. Differentiation is conceived as change in the overlap between two probability distributions: the distribution of reinforcement probability as a function of some response property (S distribution) and the probability distribution of the response property itself (R distribution). This concept implies that the differentiation process can be measured only if S distribution and R distribution are both established on the same response property. To determine whether the differentially reinforced behavioral variability fits the proposed concept of operant behavior, I examine the main procedures (lag n and threshold procedures) and the main dependent variable (U value) employed in the studies of operant variability. Because lag "n" and threshold procedures establish their S distributions on properties distinct from U value, differentiation cannot be measured over the change in U value. I conclude that studies of operant variability have failed to provide a direct demonstration that variability is an operant dimension of behavior. Hence, studies in which measures of variability provide a basis to measure differentiation can better support the claim that variability is an operant dimension of behavior. (Contains 3 tables, 4 figures and 2 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A