Periodic Response-Reinforcer Contiguity: Temporal Control but Not as We Know It!

By Keenan, Michael | The Psychological Record, Spring 1999 | Go to article overview

Periodic Response-Reinforcer Contiguity: Temporal Control but Not as We Know It!


Keenan, Michael, The Psychological Record


When significant events in the environment occur on a regular basis, people adapt by producing regularities in their behavior. Some of these events may be separated in time by a year or more (e.g., anniversaries) and others occur on a smaller time scale (e.g., weekends off work, lunch breaks during the day, etc.). In the laboratory, simulations of periodicity in behavior have been studied with both humans and nonhumans. The general approach has been to arrange a contingency between a selected behavior and an environmental event to ensure that the environmental event occurs at regular intervals. The technical term for this arrangement is a 'schedule of reinforcement.' A wide variety of schedules of reinforcement have been studied in the laboratory and each is associated with a distinctive pattern of behavior (Catania, 1998).

One of the most studied laboratory procedures for investigating periodicity in behavior is the fixed-interval (FI) schedule of reinforcement. Reinforcer delivery on this schedule is dependent upon the occurrence of a single response after a fixed period of time has elapsed since the previous reinforcer presentation. Baseline performance on this schedule is typically described as involving a postreinforcement pause (PRP) followed by either an accelerating or a constant response rate up to the next reinforcer delivery (Baron & Leinenweber, 1994; Cumming & Schoenfeld, 1958; Dews, 1970; Ferster & Skinner, 1957; see Hyten & Madden, 1993, for a discussion of problems arising from imprecision in the description of human FI performance). In the analysis of this performance a variety of techniques of have been employed. These can be grouped together according to whether they involved simple parametric investigations of the interreinforcer interval, manipulation of the single response contingency, disruption of responding during the interreinforcer interval by the presentation of other stimuli, or the replacement of occasional reinforcer presentations by other stimuli (for extended discussions of these and other related procedures see Davey, 1987; Keenan, 1986; Lowe & Wearden, 1981; Richelle & Lejeune, 1980; Staddon, 1983; Zeiler, 1977).

The analysis of patterns of behavior on schedules generally has proven difficult because even on the simplest of schedules it is recognized that behavior is multiply determined (Morse & Kelleher, 1997; Zeiler, 1997). Thus, although the formal description of a schedule may reference simply the programmed relation between the behavior and the environmental event, closer inspection shows that other variables operate collectively to produce baseline responding. For example, Keenan and Leslie (1986) (see also Keenan & Toal, 1991) offered a structural analysis of the independent variables that collectively define a FI schedule. They pointed out that there were four variables acting in concert: (a) the time between reinforcer presentations; (b) the single response contingency; (c) response-reinforcer contiguity; and (d) the time from one reinforcer presentation to the location in time of the next response dependency. The inspiration for this work came from the effects observed on another schedule that is similar in makeup to a FI schedule, a recycling conjunctive fixed-time (FT) fixed-ratio (FR) 1 schedule.

A FI schedule can be seen as a tandem FT FR 1 schedule of reinforcement. Thus, once the FT component expires, and only then, a FR 1 contingency comes into operation. A major effect of this particular construction is that it ensures periodic occurrences of response-reinforcer contiguity. A recycling conjunctive FT FR 1 schedule is similar to a FI schedule in that it too has a single response contingency and it also presents reinforcement at regular intervals. However, unlike the FI schedule a single response executed any time during a FT component results in reinforcer delivery at the end of that FT component. Also, if a response fails to occur during a FT component, that component ends without any stimulus event and the next FT component begins immediately.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Periodic Response-Reinforcer Contiguity: Temporal Control but Not as We Know It!
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.