Affordable Access

Probability and delay of reinforcement as factors in discrete-trial choice.

Authors
  • J E Mazur
Publication Date
May 01, 1985
Source
PMC
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Pigeons chose between two alternatives that differed in the probability of reinforcement and the delay to reinforcement. A peck on the red key always produced a delay of 5 s and then a possible reinforcer. The probability of reinforcement for responding on this key varied from .05 to 1.0 in different conditions. A response on the green key produced a delay of adjustable duration and then a possible reinforcer, with the probability of reinforcement ranging from .25 to 1.0 in different conditions. The green-key delay was increased or decreased many times per session, depending on a subject's previous choices. The purpose of these adjustments was to estimate an indifference point, or a delay that resulted in a subject's choosing each alternative about equally often. In conditions where the probability of reinforcement was five times higher on the green key, the green-key delay averaged about 12 s at the indifference point. In conditions where the probability of reinforcement was twice as high on the green key, the green-key delay at the indifference point was about 8 s with high probabilities and about 6 s with low probabilities. An analysis based on these results and those from studies on delay of reinforcement suggests that pigeons' choices are relatively insensitive to variations in the probability of reinforcement between .2 and 1.0, but quite sensitive to variations in probability between .2 and 0.

Report this publication

Statistics

Seen <100 times