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J Exp Anal Behav. 1983 Sep;40(2):165-77.

An interresponse-time analysis of responding maintained by schedules of response-produced electric shock.


The present study investigated ratio contingencies to evaluate factors that may determine the maintenance of responding when electric shock is the consequent event. Initially, squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) were exposed to a continuous-avoidance schedule to initiate bar pressing. Subsequently, a multiple random-interval variable-ratio yoked schedule of response-produced shock was used to maintain and to compare interval and ratio performance. A microcomputer recorded and stored the number of responses and interresponse times occurring between successive shock presentations during a given random-interval component, and these numbers determined the ratio requirements during the subsequent ratio component. Responding was maintained for more than 80 sessions in two of three monkeys under the multiple schedule with the ratio yoked to the interval component. Responding during the ratio component persisted in only one monkey, however, when the components were no longer yoked. An analysis of the interresponse times immediately preceding shock under the multiple yoked schedule revealed that the terminal interresponse times were longer under the interval schedule than under the ratio contingency. The interresponse-time analysis indicated that differential interresponse-time relationships may be major determinants of the maintenance of behavior controlled by schedules of electric-shock presentation.

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