Response-restriction analysis: I. Assessment of activity preferences.
Four adult male rats were each placed for three hours daily into an apparatus that provided individual compartments for six separate location-defined responses. The available responses consisted of: (1) the opportunity to turn off room lighting, producing darkness; (2) the opportunity to view a female rat; (3) the opportunity to turn off white noise; (4) the opportunity to drink; (5) the opportunity to eat; and (6) "other," representing time in the hallway between compartments. Each subject underwent a series of conditions characterized as an A-B-A-C-A design. Manipulations consisted of the removal of a low-probability response (darkness) and of a high-probability response (escape from noise) in a counter-balanced manner across subjects. The dependent measure for all subjects was the percentage of total session time spent in each compartment. Four predictive rules concerning the redistribution of behavior after response restriction were tested, including the constant-ratio rule, equal time redistribution, the most probable alternative, and the sequential-dependency rule. The results indicate no support for any of the four predictive rules and suggest that empirical assessment of restriction effects is necessary in reinforcement studies involving temporally extended responses.