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J Appl Behav Anal. 1992 Fall;25(3):671-9.

Effects of a variable-ratio reinforcement schedule with changing criteria on exercise in obese and nonobese boys.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.


The effects of a variable-ratio schedule of reinforcement on pedaling a a stationary exercise bicycle were examined. Three obese and three nonobese 11-year-old boys were individually tested five times weekly for approximately 12 weeks. A changing-criterion design was used in which each successive criterion was increased over mean performance rate in the previous phase by approximately 15%. The contingencies of the successive criteria resulted in systematic increases in rate of exercise for all children. Final variable-ratio rates were higher than those under fixed ratios found in previous research, with rates for 2 of the 3 obese boys approximating those of the nonobese.

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