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Response strength in multiple periodic and aperiodic schedules

By Charlotte Mandell


Responding in multiple periodic and aperiodic schedules of equal mean reinforcement rate was examined during extinction, satiation, and in the presence of various free-food schedules. In Experiments I and II, pigeons were trained on multiple variable-interval–fixed-interval schedules. Decreases in the rate of responding due to extinction, satiation, or food schedules were approximately equal regardless of the temporal pattern of reinforcer presentation. In Experiment III, pigeons responded on a two-component multiple schedule in which each component was a two-member homogeneous response chain terminating in a fixed-interval schedule during one component and in a variable-interval schedule during the other. The length of both terminal links was varied over a series of conditions. Initial-link responding in the fixed-interval component was reduced more by increasing terminal-link length than was initial-link responding in the variable-interval component. However, no differences in resistance to satiation and extinction were obtained across the fixed and variable components. If the relative decrease in responding produced by satiation and extinction is used as an index of the “value” of the conditions maintaining responding, then these data suggest that fixed and variable schedules of equal mean length are equally valued. This conclusion, however, is not consistent with findings of preference for variable over fixed schedules obtained in studies using concurrent-chain procedures

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