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J Appl Behav Anal. 1998 Spring; 31(1): 43–63.
PMCID: PMC1284098

Response allocation to concurrent fixed-ratio reinforcement schedules with work requirements by adults with mental retardation and typical preschool children.


The present experiments examined the effect of work requirements in combination with reinforcement schedule on the choice behavior of adults with mental retardation and preschool children. The work requirements of age-appropriate tasks (i.e., sorting silverware, jumping hurdles, tossing beanbags) were manipulated. Participants were presented with their choice of two response options for each trial that varied simultaneously on both work requirement and reinforcement schedule. Results showed that when responding to both choices occurred on the same reinforcement schedule, participants allocated most of their responses to the option with the easier work requirement. When the response option requiring less work was on a leaner reinforcement schedule, most participants shifted their choice to exert more work. There were individual differences across participants regarding their pattern of responding and when they switched from the lesser to the greater work requirement. Data showed that participants' responding was largely controlled by the reinforcement received for responding to each level of work. Various conceptualizations regarding the effects of work requirements on choice behavior are discussed.

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Selected References

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