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Time limits for completing fixed ratios. III. Stimulus variables1

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Abstract

Pigeons received food only if they took longer than a specified time to begin and complete a fixed ratio. In Experiment 1, ratios with shorter durations had no stimulus consequence; in Experiment 2, these ratios ended with a stimulus change. In both studies, the mean time to complete the ratio exceeded requirements of less than 30 sec, approximately matched requirements of 30 sec, and fell progressively short of matching thereafter. Variability increased together with the means. The various effects resembled those of temporal differentiation experiments involving single responses. Although both number of ratios and time separating successive food presentations increased along with ratio duration, control experiments showed that differential reinforcement of duration, rather than either form or reinforcer intermittency, accounted for the performance. Experiment 2 also studied the effects of adding a stimulus that signalled when the required time had elapsed. The stimulus produced durations that matched even the most stringent requirements. This precision was not maintained when the stimulus was removed. Temporal differentiation schedules seem to have similar effects regardless of the response class and temporal property involved.

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