Effect of unsignaled delays between stimuli in a chain schedule on responding and resistance to change

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Behavioral momentum theory is an evolving theoretical account of the strength of behavior. One challenge for the theory is determining the role of signal stimuli in determining response strength. This study evaluated the effect of an unsignaled delay between the initial link and terminal link of a two-link chain schedule on resistance to change using a multiple schedule of reinforcement. Pigeons were presented two different signaled delay to reinforcement schedules. Both schedules employed a two-link chain schedule with a variable interval 120-s initial link followed by a 5-s fixed time terminal link schedule. One of the schedules included a 5-s unsignaled delay between the initial link and the terminal link. Resistance to change was assessed with two separate disruption procedures: extinction and adding a variable time 20-s schedule of reinforcement to the inter-component interval. Baseline responding was lower in the schedule with the unsignaled delay but resistance to change for the initial link was unaffected by the unsignaled delay. The results suggest that not all unsignaled delays are equal in their effect on resistance to change.