Title

Choice, Changing Over, and Reinforcement Delays

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior

Volume

74

Issue

3

Publisher

Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior

Publication Date

11-2000

First Page

311

Last Page

330

Abstract

In three experiments, pigeons were used to examine the independent effects of two normally confounded delays to reinforcement associated with changing between concurrently available variable-interval schedules of reinforcement. In Experiments 1 and 2, combinations of changeover-delay durations and fixed-interval travel requirements were arranged in a changeover-key procedure. The delay from a changeover-produced stimulus change to a reinforcer was varied while the delay between the last response on one alternative and a reinforcer on the other (the total obtained delay) was held constant. Changeover rates decreased as a negative power function of the total obtained delay. The delay between a changeover-produced stimulus change had a small and inconsistent effect on changeover rates. In Experiment 3, changeover delays and fixed-interval travel requirements were arranged independently. Changeover rates decreased as a negative power function of the total obtained delay despite variations in the delay from a change in stimulus conditions to a reinforcer. Periods of high-rate responding following a changeover, however, were higher near the end of the delay from a change in stimulus conditions to a reinforcer. The results of these experiments suggest that the effects of changeover delays and travel requirements primarily result from changes in the delay between a response at one alternative and a reinforcer at the other, but the pattern of responding immediately after a changeover depends on the delay from a changeover-produced change in stimulus conditions to a reinforcer.

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