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J Exp Anal Behav. 1981 Nov;36(3):387-403.

Optimization and the matching law as accounts of instrumental behavior.

Abstract

The interaction between instrumental behavior and environment can be conveniently described at a molar level as a feedback system. Two different possible theories, the matching law and optimization, differ primarily in the reference criterion they suggest for the system. Both offer accounts of most of the known phenomena of performance on concurrent and single variable-interval and variable-ratio schedules. The matching law appears stronger in describing concurrent performances, whereas optimization appears stronger in describing performance on single schedules.

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