A quantitative analysis of the effects of amount of reinforcement on two response classes

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Abstract

Three experiments assessed the effects of varying amounts of reinforcement on the rate and temporal patterns of interim and terminal behaviors engendered by periodic feeding schedules; 5 male White Carneaux pigeons and 3 male hooded rats were Ss. Although the experiments differed in terms of species, response-reinforcement dependencies, and response measures, the results were consistent. Increases in amount of reinforcement appeared to have a general energizing effect on behavior. For pigeons, interim levels of general activity and terminal rates of keypecking increased uniformly with increases in the duration of reinforcement (Exp I and II). For rats, nondirected interim activity and terminal activity directed at the food source reliably increased with increases in the magnitude of reinforcement (Exp IIZ). The temporal patterns of interim activities were well represented by a simple mathematical model, and there was a correspondence in the parameter changes of the model as amount of reinforcement was varied. Arousal, as indexed by the predicted asymptotic levels of activity, was shown to be an increasing linear function of amount of reinforcement for both rats and pigeons. The present data challenge previous research that suggests that amount of reinforcement has little or no effect on behavior and show that average-response-rate measures fail to accommodate the nonlinear changes in responding that result when amount of reinforcement is varied. (52 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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