Schedule of reinforcement: is a rule specifying which occurrences of a given behavior, if
any, will be reinforced.
The simplest schedule of reinforcement is continuous reinforcement,
The opposite of continuous reinforcement is extinction
on an extinction schedule, no instance of a given behavior is reinforced.
Between these two extremes lies intermittent reinforcement.
Acquisition phase: While a behavior is being conditioned or learned
Maintenance phase: After it has become well learned.
It is best to provide continuous reinforcement during acquisition and then switch to
intermittent reinforcement during maintenance.
Intermittent schedules have several advantages over continuous reinforcement for
(a) The reinforcer remains effective longer because satiation takes place more slowly;
(b)behavior that has been reinforced intermittently tends to take longer to extinguish;
(c) individuals work more consistently on certain intermittent schedules
(d) behavior that has been reinforced intermittently is more likely to persist after being
transferred to reinforcers in the natural environment.
Free-operant procedure: is one in which the individual is "free" to respond repeatedly in
the sense that there are no constraints on successive responses.
Discrete trials procedure: a distinct stimulus is presented prior to an opportunity for a
response to occur and be followed by reinforcement, and the next response cannot occur
until another stimulus is presented, and so on.
limits the rate of responding to the rate at which successive stimuli are presented at
the beginning of each trial, which is determined by the wait time for a response to
Fixed-ratio (FR) schedule: a reinforcer occurs each time a fixed number of responses of a
particular type are emitted.
Ratio strain: deterioration of responding from increasing an FR schedule too rapidly
The optimal response requirement differs for different individuals and for different
In general, the higher the ratio at which an individual is expected to perform, the more
important it is to approach it gradually through exposure to lower ratios.
When introduced gradually, produce a high steady rate until reinforcement, followed
by a postreinforcement pause.
The length of the postreinforcement pause depends on the value of the FR--the
higher the value, the longer the pause
produce high resistance to extinction
FR is more commonly used than VR in behavioral programs because it is simpler to
administer. Variable-ratio (VR) schedule: a reinforcer occurs after a certain number of a particular
responses, and the number of responses required for each reinforcer changes
unpredictably from one reinforcer to the next.
produces a high steady rate of responding
produces no or a minimal postreinforcement pause
differences between the effects of VR and FR schedules are
VR produces no or a minimal postreinforcement pause
VR schedule can be increased somewhat more abruptly than an FR schedule
without producing ratio strain
the values of VR that can maintain responding are somewhat higher than FR
VR produces a higher resistance to extinction than FR schedules of the same value.
Progressive ratio (PR) schedule is like an FR schedule, but the ratio requirement
increases by a specified amount after each reinforcer.
Break point: After a number of sessions, the ratio requirement reaches a level at
which the individual stops responding completely.
The typical effect is an increasingly longer pause after each successive reinforcer and
an indefinitely long pause at the break point.
The main application of PR is to determine how potent or powerful a particular
reinforcer is for a particular individual.
The higher the reinforcer's break point is for the individual, the more effective the
reinforcer is likely to be in a treatment program
SIMPLE INTERVAL SCHEDULES
Fixed-interval (FI) schedule: a reinforcer is presented following the first instance of a
specific response after a fixed period of time
The only requirement for a reinforcer to occur is that the individual engage in the
behavior after reinforcement has become available be