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Choice as a dependent measure in autoshaping: sensitivity to frequency and duration of food presentation.

By M Picker and A Poling


Previous investigations have shown that rate, latency, and percentage of trials with at least one response are somewhat insensitive measures of the strength of autoshaped responding. In the present studies, these measures were contrasted with the allocation of responding during simultaneous choice tests, a measure of response strength frequently used in operant paradigms. In two experiments, nine pigeons were exposed to a forward pairing autoshaping procedure. Training sessions consisted of the successive presentation of three stimuli, each followed by food on either 100%, 50%, or 0% of the trials. Choice testing involved the simultaneous presentation of the three stimuli. In Experiment I, all pigeons consistently directed their initial choice responses and the majority of subsequent responses to the stimulus always followed by food, despite the fact that during training sessions the response rates of most birds were highest in the presence of the stimulus followed by food on 50% of the trials. In Experiment II, rate, latency, and percentage of trials with at least one response did not change appreciably as a function of duration of feeder presentations. However, choice responding was lawfully affected by duration of feeder presentations. These data suggest that choice is perhaps a more sensitive measure of the strength of autoshaped responding than other, more commonly employed, indices

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