Human Sensitivity to Concurrent Schedules of Reinforcement: Effects of Observing Schedule-Correlated Stimuli
Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
The determinants of human sensitivity to concurrent variable-interval variable-interval schedules of reinforcement have been difficult to identify, in part because of procedural differences separating published experiments. This experiment investigated vigilance to stimuli correlated with concurrent schedules. Across phases, 3 college students were provided with either no schedule-correlated stimuli, an observing response that provided brief access to the stimuli, or a contingency that required the subject to identify the stimulus correlated with the source of each obtained reinforcer. Sensitivity, as quantified by the generalized matching equation, was low when no stimuli were available. When the stimuli were response contingent, 1 subject observed them, and her behavior became more sensitive to the distribution of reinforcers across the concurrent schedules. When the procedure required discrimination of the stimulus correlated with each reinforcer, the other 2 subjects also observed the stimuli, and their schedule sensitivity was increased as well. These results implicate procedural differences, rather than inherent behavioral differences, as the source of differences in sensitivity to schedules of reinforcement between humans and nonhumans.
Madden, G. J., & Perone, M. (1999). Human sensitivity to concurrent schedules of reinforcement: Effects of observing schedule-correlated stimuli. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 71, 303-318.