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Quantitative studies of reinforcement relativity1

By James E. Mazur


Three experiments examined an application of the matching law to the area of reinforcement relativity. In Experiment I, rats ran in a wheel and drank a sucrose solution. Equations derived from the matching law made fairly accurate predictions of the amounts of time spent running and drinking when licks and wheel revolutions had to occur in fixed proportions. In Experiment II, rats were required to spend four times as much time drinking as running, but the absolute durations of the cycles of drinking and running were varied. Except for the shortest cycle size tested, durations were close to those predicted. Experiments III investigated a tendency for obtained durations of running and drinking to be slightly longer than predicted. Simply shortening the periods when these behaviors were available increased their values. It was concluded that the matching law equations provided reasonably accurate predictions in some experiments, but changes in motivation set the limits of such accuracy

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