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Practical implications of the matching law

Authors
  • Joel Myerson
  • Sandra Hale
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1984
Source
PMC
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Mathematics
License
Unknown

Abstract

Many problem situations in applied settings are best conceptualized as choice situations. In addition, applied behavior analysts create choice situations when they reinforce a competing response to decrease inappropriate behavior. When such situations are analyzed using the matching law, variable interval (VI) schedules of reinforcement prove to be a superior intervention strategy regardless of the nature of the schedule maintaining other, less appropriate behavior. This conclusion is robust in that VI schedule superiority is observed in situations in which choice behavior is highly biased or shows pronounced undermatching as well as those in which the matching law holds precisely. Our analysis demonstrates the potential practical value of mathematical descriptions of behavior.

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