On Differential Stimulation and Differential Reinforcement

  • John A. Nevin


Animal psychophysics occupies a special systematic position in psychology. On the one hand, it is obviously a close relative of psychophysical work with humans. Asymptotic performances are studied under precisely reproducible stimulus conditions, and interest centers on responding as a function of carefully specified parameters of stimulation. On the other hand, animal psychophysics must of necessity use information obtained in studies of animal discrimination learning and performance in order to establish and maintain behavior which is sensitive to stimulus variables. Much of the research in animal discrimination learning has been concerned with the effects of conditioning history and reinforcement variables on the acquisition of stimulus control over responding (e. g., Terrace, 1966). Asymptotic discrimination performance has also been studied as a function of the conditions of reinforcement (e. g., Nevin, 1967). Research in this area usually employs stimuli which differ grossly, and are specified in the experimenter’s everyday language (e. g., red, green) rather than in the language of physics. It is widely assumed that the general character of the obtained relations is independent of the selection of particular stimuli.


Correct Detection Food Reinforcement Reinforcement Variable Differential Reinforcement Signal Onset 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Blough, D. S. 1967. Stimulus generalization as signal detection in pigeons. Science, 158:940–941.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bush, R. R., R. D. Luce, and R. M. Rose. 1964. Learning models for psychophysics. In Atkinson, R. C, ed. Studies in Mathematical Psychology, Stanford, Stanford University Press, pp. 201–217.Google Scholar
  3. Dews, P. B. 1962. The effect of multiple SΔ periods on responding on a fixed-interval schedule. J. Exp. Anal. Behav., 5:369–374.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Green, D. M., and J. A. Swets. 1966. Signal Detection Theory and Psychophysics, New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.Google Scholar
  5. Hack, M. H. 1963. Signal detection in the rat. Science, 193:758–759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Herrnstein, R. J. 1964. Secondary reinforcement and rate of primary reinforcement. J. Exp. Anal. Behav., 7:27–36.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Honig, W. K., C. A. Boneau, K. R. Burstein, and H. S. Pennypacker. 1963. Positive and negative generalization gradients obtained after equivalent training conditions. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol., 56:111–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Leitenberg, H. 1965. Is time out from positive reinforcement an aversive event? Psychol. Bull., 64:428–441.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. McKearney, J. W. 1969. Fixed-interval schedules of shock presentation: extinction and recovery of performance under different shock intensities and fixed-interval durations. J. Exp. Anal. Behav., 12:301–313.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Mentzer, T. L. 1966. Comparison of three methods for obtaining psychophysical thresholds from the pigeon. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol., 61:96–101.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Nevin, J. A. 1964. A method for the determination of psychophysical functions in the rat. J. Exp. Anal. Behav., 7:169.Google Scholar
  12. Nevin, J. A. 1967. Effects of reinforcement scheduling on simultaneous discrimination performance. J. Exp. Anal. Behav., 10:251–260.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Nevin, J. A. 1968. Differential reinforcement and stimulus control of not responding. J. Exp. Anal. Behav., 11:715–726.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Premack, D. 1965. Reinforcement theory. In Levine, D., ed. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, pp. 123–180.Google Scholar
  15. Reynolds, G. S. 1961. Behavioral contrast. J. Exp. Anal. Behav., 4:57–71.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Reynolds, G. S. 1963a. On some determinants of choice in pigeons. J. Exp. Anal. Behav., 6: 53–59.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Reynolds, G. S. 1963b. Some limitations on behavioral contrast and induction during successive discrimination. J. Exp. Anal. Behav., 6:131–139.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Schaub, R. E., and W. K. Honig. 1967. Reinforcement of behavior with cues correlated with extinction. Psychon. Sci., 7:15–16.Google Scholar
  19. Terrace, H. S. 1966. Stimulus control. In Honig, W. K., ed. Operant Behavior: Areas of Research and Applicaton, New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, pp. 271–344.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • John A. Nevin
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations