Resistance to Change and Frequency of Response-Dependent Stimuli Uncorrelated with Reinforcement

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Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior






Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior

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Stimuli uncorrelated with reinforcement have been shown to enhance response rates and resistance to disruption; however, the effects of different rates of stimulus presentations have not been assessed. In two experiments, we assessed the effects of adding different rates of response-dependent brief stimuli uncorrelated with primary reinforcement on relative response rates and resistance to change. In both experiments, pigeons responded on variable-interval 60-s schedules of food reinforcement in two components of a multiple schedule, and brief response-dependent keylight-color changes were added to one or both components. Although relative response rates were not systematically affected in either experiment, relative resistance to presession feeding and extinction were. In Experiment 1, adding stimuli on a variable-interval schedule to one component of a multiple schedule either at a low rate (1 per min) for one group or at a high rate (4 per min) for another group similarly increased resistance to disruption in the components with added stimuli. When high and low rates of stimuli were presented across components (i.e., within subjects) in Experiment 2, however, relative resistance to disruption was greater in the component presenting stimuli at a lower rate. These results suggest that stimuli uncorrelated with food reinforcement do not strengthen responding in the same way as primary reinforcers.


Originally published by the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. Publisher's PDF available through remote link.