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Choice for periodic schedules of reinforcement1

By Barbara Duncan and Edmund Fantino


Pigeons' responses in the presence of two concurrently available (initial-link) stimuli produced one of two different (terminal-link) stimuli according to identical but independent variable-interval schedules. Responding in the mutually exclusive terminal links was reinforced with food according to fixed-ratio schedules for six pigeons and according to fixed-interval schedules for two pigeons. None of the pigeons matched the proportion of (choice) responses in the initial links to the proportion of the rates of reinforcement obtained during the terminal links. Instead, as the values of each of the terminal-link schedules were increased by a constant amount, the choice proportions for the stimulus associated with the smaller of the two values increased, even though the relative rates of reinforcement during the terminal links decreased. These results are incompatible with those from previous studies with aperiodic (variable-interval or variable-ratio) schedules. The present results do suggest, however, that in transforming aperiodic schedules into their periodic equivalents, it may be necessary to consider the size of the smallest interreinforcement interval comprising the terminal-link schedules

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