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J Exp Anal Behav. Jan 1992; 57(1): 33–46.
PMCID: PMC1323067

Fixed-ratio pausing: Joint effects of past reinforcer magnitude and stimuli correlated with upcoming magnitude

Abstract

Pigeons responded on fixed-ratio schedules ending in small or large reinforcers (grain presentations of different duration) interspersed within each session. In mixed-schedule conditions, the response key was lit with a single color throughout the session, and pausing was directly related to the past reinforcer (longer pauses after large reinforcers than after small ones). In multiple-schedule conditions, different colors accompanied the ratios ending in small and large reinforcers, and pausing was affected by the upcoming reinforcer as well as the past one. Pauses were shorter before large reinforcers than before small ones, but they continued to be longer after large reinforcers than after small ones. The influence of the past reinforcer was modulated by the magnitude of the upcoming reinforcer; in the presence of the stimulus before the small reinforcer, the effect of the past reinforcer was enhanced relative to its effect in the stimulus before the large reinforcer. These results show that pausing between ratios is jointly determined by two competing factors: past conditions of reinforcement and stimuli correlated with upcoming conditions.

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Selected References

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