Suppression by reinforcement, a model for multiple-schedule behavioral contrast.
- F K McSweeney
- Behavioural processes
Seven albino rats were exposed to a multiple schedule of reinforcement in which the two components (fixed interval and extinction) alternated such that a presentation of the extinction component followed each fixed-interval reinforcement. In baseline sessions, the duration of the extinction component was constant and always one-third of the fixed-interval value. Probe sessions contained a probe segment in which the duration of the extinction component was increased; the response rate in fixed-interval components during the probe segment was compared with the response rate in the segments preceding and following the probe. The effect of increasing the duration of the extinction component was studied under three values of fixed interval: 30 s, 120 s, and 18 s, in three successive conditions. Response rate within fixed intervals was a direct function of duration of the extinction component. Pausing at the beginning of the fixed interval decreased as extinction duration increased. These effects were larger and more consistent for the shorter fixed-interval values (18 s and 30 s). These results indicate a functional relation between relative component duration and responding. For the component providing more frequent reinforcement, this could be stated as an inverse relationship between relative component duration and response rate. This relation is similar to findings regarding the ratio of trial and intertrial duration in Pavlovian conditioning procedures, and suggests that behavioral contrast may be related to Pavlovian contingencies underlying the multiple schedule.