A Local Model of Concurrent Performance

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concurrent schedules, probability of reinforcement, local models, stay schedules, switch schedules, lever press, rats


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Concurrent procedures may be conceptualized as consisting of two pairs of schedules with only one pair operating at a time. One schedule of each pair arranges reinforcers for staying in the current alternative, and the other schedule arranges reinforcers for switching to the other alternative. These pairs alternate operation as the animal switches between choices. This analysis of the contingencies suggests that variables operating within an alternative produce behavior that conforms to the generalized matching law. Rats were exposed to one pair of stay and switch schedules in each condition, and the probabilities of reinforcement varied across conditions. Both run length and visit duration were power functions of the ratio of the probabilities of reinforcement for staying and switching. The local model, a model of performance on concurrent procedures, was derived from this power function. Performance on concurrent schedules was synthesized from the performances on the separate pairs. Both the generalized matching law and the local model fitted the synthesized concurrent performances. These results are consistent with the view that the contingencies in the alternative, the probability of stay and switch reinforcement, are responsible for performance consistent with the generalized matching law. These results are compatible with momentary maximizing and molar maximizing accounts of concurrent performance. Models of concurrent performance that posit comparisons among the alternatives are not easily applied to these results.

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APA Citation: MacDonall, J.S. (1999). A local model of concurrent performance. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 71(1), 57-74.