Synthesizing Concurrent Interval Performances

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generalized matching law, contingency discrimination model, local model, melioration, random-interval schedule, lever press, rats


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Concurrent schedules may be viewed as consisting of two pairs of stay and switch schedules, each pair associated with one of the alternatives. A stay schedule arranges reinforcers for staying and responding at one alternative, whereas the associated switch schedule arranges reinforcers for switching to the other alternative. In standard concurrent schedules, the stay schedule at each alternative is equivalent to the switch schedule at the other alternative. MacDonall (1999) exposed rats to one pair of stay and switch variable-ratio schedules and varied the response requirements across conditions. Combining results from symmetric pairs produced composite performances that were described by the generalized matching law. This outcome was noteworthy because the data were obtained from performances at two alternatives with contingencies that were functionally unrelated to each other. This result suggests that concurrent performances may consist of two unrelated performances that alternate as behavior moves between alternatives. The purpose of the present experiment was to extend those results to interval schedules. Rats were exposed to pairs of random-interval schedules, and across conditions their mean intervals were varied. When data from appropriately paired conditions were combined, the composite performances were consistent with the generalized matching law. In addition, the results supported two models of concurrent performances that were based on local variables at an alternative (behavior, and stay and switch reinforcers): a modified version of the contingency discrimination model (Davison & Jenkins, 1985) and the local model (MacDonall, 1999).

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APA Citation: MacDonall, J.S. (2004). Synthesizing concurrent interval performances. Journal of Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 74(2), 189-206.