Resistance to extinction, generalization decrement, and conditioned reinforcement

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This study investigated generalization decrement during an extinction resistance-to-change test for pigeon key pecking using a two-component multiple schedule with equal variable–interval 3-min schedules and different reinforcer amounts (one component presented 2-s access to reinforcement and the other 8 s). After establishing baseline responding, subjects were assigned to one of the two extinction conditions: hopper stimuli (hopper and hopper light were activated but no food was available) or Control (inactive hopper and hopper light). Responding in the 8-s component was more resistant to extinction than responding in the 2-s component, the hopper stimuli group was more resistant to extinction compared to the Control group, and an interaction between amount of reinforcement, extinction condition, and session block was present. This finding supports generalization decrement as a factor that influences resistance to extinction. Hopper-time data (the amount of time subjects spent with their heads in the hopper) were compared to resistance-to-change data in an investigation of the role of conditioned reinforcement on resistance to change.