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Preference for signaled versus unsignaled reinforcement delay in concurrent-chain schedules

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Abstract

A concurrent-chain schedule was employed to examine pigeons' preferences for signaled versus unsignaled delay of reinforcement in which the delay durations ranged from zero to ten seconds. In general, pigeons preferred signaled delay over unsignaled delay especially when a variable-interval 30-second schedule operated in each initial link; when a variable-interval 90-second schedule operated in each initial link, these preferences tended toward indifference or were attenuated. In addition, prior training seemed to exert partial control over behavior. Responding in the terminal link was higher under signaled delay than unsignaled delay in a majority of the cases. Moreover, response rates under signaled delay remained fairly constant whereas responding under unsignaled delay was initially high, but decreased systematically with delay durations as short as 2.5 seconds. These results are consistent with a number of other studies demonstrating the significant role of a signal for impending positive stimuli.

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