The Effect of Delay and Intervening Events on Reinforcement Value - Vol. 5

The Effect of Delay and Intervening Events on Reinforcement Value - Vol. 5

The Effect of Delay and Intervening Events on Reinforcement Value - Vol. 5

The Effect of Delay and Intervening Events on Reinforcement Value - Vol. 5

Excerpt

The study of behavior has consisted of a number of somewhat separate traditions. One tradition, starting with Thorndike and then continuing with Skinner, has analyzed experimentally the control of behavior by events that occur subsequent to it. A second tradition, starting with Bechterev and Pavlov and coming down to the present through Watson, Hull, Spence, and others, has analyzed the control and transfer of control by events that precede behavior.

After the 1920s both approaches became more quantitative. In the experimental analysis of behavior, quantifiable variables, such as the rate of responding, were used to represent the behavioral outcomes. At the same time, more elaborate quantitative studies were carried out in the Hullian approach. Quantifiable measures, such as response probability and latency, were introduced. In that period, and extending through the 1950s, mathematical models were developed by Hull, Spence, Estes, Bush and Mosteller, and Logan, among others. Both groups carried out some parametric studies in the tradition of psychophysics. By the early 1960s mathematical psychology had developed to the point where it could deal with problems from a number of domains. In each domain, explicit mathematical models were proposed for the processes by which performances were acquired and maintained within that domain. Although the models generated a number of experiments, they were of limited generality.

"Quantitative analysis" now generally refers to the fact that theoretical issues are represented by quantitative models. An analysis is not a matter of fitting arbitrary functions to data points. Rather, each parameter and variable in a set of equations represents part of a process that has both a theoretical and an empirical interpretation. Quantitative analysis has forced researchers to represent explicitly their notions and to be economical in the number of parameters that must be . . .

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