Punishment and choice in the rat

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Rats were trained on the basis of larger or more immediate reward to 100% choice of 1 side of T mazes which minimized external cues as bases for choice. After shock was introduced on this higher positive incentive side, number of trials taken to reverse to 100% choice of the nonshock, lower positive incentive side proved to be a positive function of the discrepancy in positive incentives between the 2 alternatives. This finding held both when punishment was associated with highly distinctive proprioceptive feedback cues, and when such cues were considerably less distinctive. The effects of punishment were largely specific to the punished response. The results were interpreted in terms of a “negative incentive” conceptualization of punishment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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