Response-Reinforcer Relations and Resistance to Change
Behavioral momentum theory suggests that the relation between a response and a reinforcer (i.e., response–reinforcer relation) governs response rates and the relation between a stimulus and a reinforcer (i.e., stimulus–reinforcer relation) governs resistance to change. The present experiments compared the effects degrading response–reinforcer relations with response-independent or delayed reinforcers on resistance to change in conditions with equal stimulus–reinforcer relations. In Experiment 1, pigeons responded on equal variable-interval schedules of immediate reinforcement in three components of a multiple schedule. Additional response-independent reinforcers were available in one component and additional delayed reinforcers were available in another component. The results showed that resistance to disruption was greater in the components with added reinforcers than without them (i.e., better stimulus–reinforcer relations), but did not differ for the components with added response-independent and delayed reinforcement. In Experiment 2, a component presenting immediate reinforcement alternated with either a component that arranged equal rates of reinforcement with a proportion of those reinforcers being response independent or a component with a proportion of the reinforcers being delayed. Results showed that resistance to disruption tended to be either similar across components or slightly lower when response–reinforcer relations were degraded with either response-independent or delayed reinforcers. These findings suggest that degrading response–reinforcer relations can impact resistance to change, but that impact does not depend on the specific method and is small relative to the effects of the stimulus–reinforcer relation.
Podlesnik, C. A., & Shahan, T. A. (2008). Response-reinforcer relations and resistance to change. Behavioural Processes, 77, 109-125.