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Lecture 4

PSYB45H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Classical Conditioning

Course Code
Jessica Dere

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Lec04: Schedules of reinforcement & stimulus discrimination and
Intermittent Reinforcement
Exmining increasingly more complex ways in which
reinforcement can be applied
Recall: Continuous reinforcerment vs. Intermittent
oContinuous: a response is reinforced everytime
oIntermittent: a response is reinforced sometimes
(MORE RESISTANT to extinction)
Free-operant procedure: No constraints on the individual’s
responses, “free” to respond repeatedly
Discrete-trials procedure: A distinct stimulus is presented
prior to an opportunity to respond, the individual’s
responses are limited to the rate at which the stimuli is
The usual behavioral patterns that each type of
intermittent schedule of reinforcement is supposed to
produce are largely based on animal research
oFound very consistently in animals
oLess consistency when studied among humans
Generally BEST to provide continuous reinforcement
during initial learning behavior (acquisition phase) and
switch to intermittent reinforcement to maintain behavior
Advantages of Intermittent reinforcement for
maintenance of behavior
Reinforcers remains e8ective longer because satiation
takes place more slowly
Behavior that has been reinforced intermittent tends to
take longer to extinguish
Individuals work more consistently on certain intermittent
Behaviors that has been reinforced intermittently is more
likely to persist after being transferred to reinforcement in
the natural environment
Schedules of Reinforcement
Schedules of reinforcement: rule specifying which
occurrences of a behavior will be reinforced
Di8erent schedules of reinforcement have di8erent
impacts on the rate of behaviors and the speed of
extinction (produce di8erent behavior patterns)
Continuous reinforcement: SIMPLEST schedules of
oFast learning and fast extinction
Intermittent reinforcement: btw CRF and Operant
oSlow learning and slow extinction
Extinction: complete opposite of continuous reinforcement
Vary based on whether a certain number of responses are
required for reinforcement or if reinforcement involves a
certain time period
Types of intermittent schedules
oSimple Interval
oSchedules with limited hold
Ratio schedules
Based on the number of responses emitted
Fixed-ratio schedule: reinforcement occurs each time a
;xed number of response are emitted
oBehavioral result:
High steady rate of responding until
reinforcement followed by a post-
reinforcement pause
High resistance to extinction
Ratio strain: deterioration of responding from increasing a
;xed-ratio schedule too rapidly
oNeed to increase the number of required responses
oEx) Do 20 sit-ups before taking a water break
Variable-ratio schedule: the number of responses required
to produce reinforcement changes unpredictable from one
reinforcement to the next
oBehavioral result: 1) High steady rate of responding
until reinforcement, 2) No or small post-
reinforcement pause, 3) high resistance to
oEx) Slot-machines, door-to door sales, ;shing
VR vs. FR schedules
oVR schedules can be increased more abruptly than
FR schedules without producing ratio strain
oValues of VR (the mean number of required
responses) that can maintain a behavior are
somewhat higher than the values for FR
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