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Predicting and scaling hens' preferences for topographically different responses

  • Catherine E. Sumpter
  • T. Mary Foster
  • William Temple
Publication Date
Mar 01, 1995


Six hens were exposed to several concurrent (second-order) variable-interval schedules in which the response requirements on the alternatives were varied. The response requirements were one key peck versus five key pecks, one key peck versus one door push, and five key pecks versus one door push. Response- and time-allocation ratios undermatched the obtained reinforcement ratios but were well described by the generalized matching law. Time and response bias estimates from two pairs of response requirements were used to predict bias in the third pairing. The predicted values were close to those obtained; this result supports the notion that both numerically and topographically different responses act as constant sources of bias within the generalized matching law. The differences between the response and time biases could be accounted for by the different times needed to complete each response requirement. The results also suggest that the door push is a useful operant for research with domestic hens.

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