Conservation in behavior

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Conducted 4 experiments in which albino rats barpressed or ran for water or saccharin reinforcement. Results of all 4 experiments were accounted for satisfactorily by a general model that considers not only the amount of the dimension entailed by the responses specified but also the amount entailed in switching from one response to the other. By assuming that the same dimension was conserved among different pairs of responses, it was possible to predict accurately the amount of responding produced by a contingency involving a novel pair of responses. This capability made it possible in principle to predict what responses will readily facilitate another and what responses will not. Results show that running may facilitate drinking even though drinking has the higher baseline and that the amount of instrumental responding depends on more than the amount of response deprivation. All 4 experiments contradict a model that assumed the rat would do in contingency the amount of drinking done in baseline. It is shown how the conservation model might account for the effects of motivational variables and how it relates to the economics of demand. (60 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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