Reinforcing Staying and Switching While Using a Changeover Delay

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concurrent schedules, changeover delay, generalized matching law, local model, stay reinforcers, lever press, rats


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Performance on concurrent schedules can be decomposed to run lengths (the number of responses before switching alternatives), or visit durations (time at an alternative before switching alternatives), that are a function of the ratio of the rates of reinforcement for staying and switching. From this analysis, a model of concurrent performance was developed and examined in two experiments. The first exposed rats to variable-interval schedules for staying and for switching, which included a changeover delay for reinforcers following a switch. With the changeover delay, run lengths and visit durations were functions of the ratios of the rates of reinforcement for staying and for switching, as found by previous research not using a changeover delay. The second directly assessed the effect of a changeover delay on run lengths and visit durations. Each component of a multiple schedule consisted of equivalent stay and switch schedules but only one component included a changeover delay. Run lengths and visit durations were longer when a changeover delay was used. Because visit duration is the reciprocal of changeover rate, these results are consistent with the established finding that a changeover delay reduces the frequency of switching. Together these results support the local model of concurrent performance as an alternative to the generalized matching law as a model of concurrent performance. The local model may be preferred when accounting for more molecular aspects of concurrent performance.

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Peer Reviewed



APA Citation: MacDonall, J.S. (2003). Reinforcing staying and switching while using a changeover delay. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 79(2), 219-232.