Title

Changeover behavior and preference in concurrent schedules

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-1996

Publisher

John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Abstract

Pigeons were trained on a multiple schedule of reinforcement in which separate concurrent schedules occurred in each of two components. Key pecking was reinforced with milo. During one component, a variable-interval 40-s schedule was concurrent with a variable-interval 20-s schedule; during the other component, a variable-interval 40-s schedule was concurrent with a variable-interval 80-s schedule. During probe tests, the stimuli correlated with the two variable-interval 40-s schedules were presented simultaneously to assess preference, measured by the relative response rates to the two stimuli. In Experiment 1, the concurrently available variable-interval 20-s schedule operated normally; that is, reinforcer availability was not signaled. Following this baseline training, relative response rate during the probes favored the variable-interval 40-s alternative that had been paired with the lower valued schedule (i.e., with the variable-interval 80-s schedule). In Experiment 2, a signal for reinforcer availability was added to the high-value alternative (i.e., to the variable-interval 20-s schedule), thus reducing the rate of key pecking maintained by that schedule but leaving the reinforcement rate unchanged. Following that baseline training, relative response rates during probes favored the variable-interval 40-s alternative that had been paired with the higher valued schedule. The reversal in the pattern of preference implies that the pattern of changeover behavior established during training, and not reinforcement rate, determined the preference patterns obtained on the probe tests.

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