The structure of choice

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Abstract

Both J. A. Nevin (ses PA, Vol 44:4827) and C. P. Shimp (see record 1966-10968-001) found on different choice procedures that pigeons equate (match) the proportion of their choices to the proportion of reinforcers each choice delivers. Their results differed in terms of the order of successive choices: Shimp found that pigeons ordered successive choices so as to maximize the reinforcement rate, whereas Nevin found no evidence of such an ordering. In the present study with 22 male White Carneaux pigeons, Exp I replicated both studies and found matching relations and sequential dependencies of choice that corresponded with Shimp's maximizing prediction. The next 3 experiments studied the order of choices in 3 other choice procedures: (a) concurrent VI schedules with a changeover delay, (b) concurrent VI schedules without a changeover delay, and (c) concurrent-chains schedules. In all of these procedures, control of choice at the level of the response sequence was evident. The major features of the data from all 4 experiments were attributed to 2 molecular processes: response perseveration and reinforcement maximization. This evidence for a microstructure of choice suggests that the molar matching law is not isomorphic with the molecular processes governing concurrent performances. (37 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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