Laboratory Experiments in Psychology

By Joseph C. Stevens; Richard J. Herrnstein et al. | Go to book overview

23
Control of Behavior by Proprioceptive Discriminative Stimuli: A Mixed Fixed-Ratio, Fixed-interval Schedule of Reinforcement

Multiple schedules of reinforcement and mixed schedules of reinforcement are alike in that they are both compounded of simple schedules of reinforcement. For example, in a given experiment the animal may at one time receive reinforcement on a variable-interval schedule and at another time on a fixed-ratio schedule. Mixed and multiple schedules are different in that a multiple schedule employs special stimuli that are correlated with each of the separate, component schedules, but a mixed schedule does not employ such stimuli. For example, a red light might be used as the stimulus associated with the variable-interval schedule, and a blue light (or simply no light at all) with the fixed-ratio schedule. Because the lights do not depend upon the behavior of the organism and are external to the organism and because they mark the two component schedules, we call such a combination a "multiple schedule." The stimuli in a multiple schedule are, in effect, discriminative stimuli that elicit responding appropriate to the particular simple schedules correlated with their presence.

Mixed schedules are characterized by the absence of special stimuli to mark the transitions from one component of the schedule to the other. But despite their absence, the organism may come very close to performing appropriately to the schedule in force at a given time. For example, if a fixed-interval (FI) of 3 min is alternated irregularly with a fixed-ratio (FR)

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For additional information see pp. 197-208, 231-247 in Kelller, F. S., and W. N. Schoenfeld, Principles of Psychology ( New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1950); see also pp. 100-111 in Skinner, B. F., Cumulative Record, enlarged ed. ( New York: Appleton- Century-Crofts, 1961).

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