Choice with Concurrent Interval Schedules of Reinforcement: The Effects of Different Timing Procedures
Using a Findley changeover procedure, two groups of rats were exposed to various concurrent variable-time (VT) schedules of milk presentation. The rules governing the operation of the timers for the stimulus events differed for the two groups with resulting differences in the overall degree of changeover responding but not with respect to time allocation measures, which in both cases consisted of undermatching. When an interrupted VT reinforcement timer was reset upon re-entry of that component, the rats tended to emit changeover responses almost exclusively to the more favorable component. When the VT reinforcement timers were left running regardless of which components the rats selected, changeover responses were significantly more frequent and equally distributed among both the more and less favorable components. In comparing the present results with those from a similar procedure in which shock was used (Deluty & Church, 1978), it is apparent that what is basic to choice in concurrent interval schedules is not matching or some mathematical variation of it. Instead, it is a tendency to optimize on the basis of the favorability of the stimulus events and the contingencies regarding how those events are timed and administered.
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