Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Carl D. Cheney


The goal of this research was to ascertain if information per se is a necessary condition to establish a conditioned reinforcer. Five pigeons were given observing response training in a two key Skinner box us ing free choice and forced trials procedures and a chain VI FI reinforcement schedule. The percentage of free choice noninformative trials was the observing response measure. A time correction procedure equated actual and programmed reinforcement frequencies in informative trials and noninformative trials if a difference occurred. For one bird a discrimination reversal of the informative and noninformative stimulus presentations occurred in the last five sessions.

All subjects showed marked preferences on the free choice trials measure. Some subjects preferred the informative trials, others the noninformative trials. Stimulus control over responding in the terminal links of the informative chain VI FI schedules was shown in all subjects after the first few observing response training sessions. There was no correspondence between the development of stimulus control and expressions of free choice preferences. No differences were shown in reinforcement frequencies between informative and noninformative trials.

The results showed that information was not a necessary condition to establish a conditioned reinforcer when subjects have not accrued a greater history of primary reinforcement associated with informative trials and the reinforcement frequencies in informative and noninformative trials are the same. Although marked and persistent preferences were shown these could not be considered observing responses.



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