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Animal learning & behavior

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 365–376 | Cite as

Specification of the stimulus-reinforcer relation in multiple schedules: Delay and probability of reinforcement

  • Bruce L. Brown
  • Nancy S. Hemmes
  • David A. Coleman
  • Alison Hassin
  • Eva Goldhammer
Article
  • 245 Downloads

Abstract

Control of pigeons’ keypecking by a stimulus-reinforcer contingency was investigated in the context of a four-component multiple schedule. In each of three experiments, pigeons were exposed to a schedule consisting of two two-component sequences. Discriminative stimuli identifying each sequence were present only in Component 1, which was 4, 6, or 8 sec in duration, while reinforcers could be earned only in Component 2 (30 sec in duration). Control by a stimulus-reinforcer contingency was sought during Component 1 by arranging a differential relation between Component 1 cues and schedule of reinforcement in Component 2. In Experiment 1, rate of keypecking during Component 1 varied with the presence and absence of a stimulus-reinforcer contingency. When a contingency was introduced, rate of keypecking increased during the Component 1 cue associated with the availability of reinforcement in Component 2. In Experiment 2, the stimulus-reinforcer contingency was manipulated parametrically by varying the correlation between Component 1 cues and Component 2 schedules of reinforcement. Responding in Component 1 varied as a function of strength of the stimulus-reinforcer contingency. The relatively high rates of Component 1 responding observed in Experiments 1 and 2 pose difficulties for conceptions of stimulus-reinforcer control based on probability of reinforcement. In these two experiments, the stimulus-associated probabilities of reinforcement in Component 1 were invariant at zero. An alternate dimension of stimulus-reinforcer control was explored in Experiment 3, in which Component 1 cues were differentially associated with delay to reinforcement in Component 2, while probability of reinforcement was held constant across components. When the stimulus-reinforcer contingency was in force, rate of responding in Component 1 varied inversely with delay to reinforcement in Component 2. In a quantitative analysis of data from Experiments 2 and 3, relative rate of responding during Component 1 was strongly correlated with two measures of relative delay to reinforcement.

Reference Note

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce L. Brown
    • 1
  • Nancy S. Hemmes
    • 1
  • David A. Coleman
    • 1
  • Alison Hassin
    • 1
  • Eva Goldhammer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyQueens College-CUNYFlushing

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