Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




E. K. Crossman


The present study was designed to investigate the effects of a stimulus change inserted in the large component of a mixed fixed-ratio 10 fixed-ratio 100 schedule. In mixed fixed-ratio schedules, a run of responses which approximates the response requirement of the smaller fixed ratio occurs at the beginning of the larger fixed ratio. This run of responses and the pause it precedes is called a prime. In Experiment I, priming acquisition was compared in a mixed schedule in which a change in key-color followed completion of the first 10 responses of the fixed-ratio 100 component and a mixed schedule with no stimulus change. Primes were acquired more rapidly in the mixed schedule with the stimulus change and the number of responses in a priming run was less variable than occurred without the stimulus change. In Experiment II, the effect of the stimulus change on primes was further investigated by removal of the smaller fixed-ratio component or by varying the location of the stimulus change. Primes occurred only when the smaller fixed-ratio component was present. Varying the location of the stimulus change resulted in the transfer of control from the external stimulus to response-produced stimuli. Future investigation of this point of transfer should prove useful in the study of the proprioceptive stimulus control of homogeneous behavior sequences.

In Experiments Ill through VI, the variables controlling the length of the post-prime and the post-reinforcement pauses were investigated using the mixed FR x chained FR x FR y schedule. In this series of experiments, FR x was varied with FR y held constant at both high and low values. In addition, FR y was varied with FR x held constant at both high and low values. The results indicate that the post-prime pause is primarily a function of FR y, the number of responses required after the priming run. On the other hand, both post-reinforcement pauses were shown to be a function of FR x, the size of the small fixed ratio. An interaction between FR x and FR y and both the post-reinforcement and the post-prime pauses suggested that pausing in mixed schedules is a closed system. Taken as a whole, these results indicate the importance of mixed chained schedules in the investigation of the priming phenomenon.

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