PSYC 2330 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Elevator, Washing Machine

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Chapter 6: Schedules of Reinforcement and Choice Behaviour
Schedule of reinforcement: is a program/rule that determines how and when the occurrence of
a response will be followed by the delivery of the reinforcer
Reinforcement schedules that involve similar relations between responses and
reinforcers usually produce similar patterns of behaviour
This makes patterns of behaviour predictable
It influences how an instrumental response is learned and how it is then maintained by
reinforcement
Simple Schedules of Intermittent Reinforcement
In simple schedules, a single factor determines which occurrence of the instrumental
response is reinforced
Ratio Schedules
Ratio schedules: a reinforcement schedule in which reinforcement depends on the
number of responses the participant performs, regardless of when those responses
occur
It requires merely counting the number of responses that have occurred and delivering
the reinforcer each time the required number is reached
Continuous reinforcement: a schedule of reinforcement in which every occurrence of
the instrumental response produces the reinforcer
Example: treatment programs for drug abusers
oClients are tested on whether they have used drugs since their last visit and if
it’s clear they receive a voucher, which can be exchanged for things
oThe amount given is increased with each successive drug-free visit
Examples in reality
oContinuous reinforcement is not so common outside the lab
oPushing an elevator button, may not always bring the elevator, especially if its
malfunctioning
Intermittent/partial reinforcement: a schedule of reinforcement in which only some of
the occurrences of the instrumental response are reinforced
oThe instrumental response is reinforced occasionally
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Fixed-Ratio Schedule
Fixed-ratio schedule (FR): a schedule of reinforcement in which a fixed number of
responses must occur in order for the next response to be reinforced
oExample: making a phone call in which you have to press a fixed number of digits
to make the call
This is also an example of a continuous reinforcement schedule because it involves a
fixed ratio of one response per reinforcer
On a continuous schedule, organisms usually respond:
oAt a steady and moderate rate
oWith only brief and unpredictable pauses
Cumulative record: is a special way of representing how a response is repeated over
time
oIt shows the total (cumulative) number of responses that have occurred up to a
particular point in time
oIt also provides a complete visual representation of when and how frequently
the subject responds during a session
Post-reinforcement pause: a pause in responding that typically occurs after the
delivery of the reinforcer on fixed-ratio/interval schedules of reinforcement
Ratio run: the high and steady rate of responding observed after the post-
reinforcement pause of fixed-ratio schedules
oThe ratio run ends when the necessary number of responses have been
performed and the participant is reinforced
Ratio strain: if the ratio requirement is suddenly increased a great deal (from FR 120 to
FR 500), the animal is likely to pause periodically before the completion of the ratio
requirement
oIn extreme cases, ratio strain may be so great the animal stops responding
altogether and gives up  break-point
Variable-Ratio Schedule
Variable-ratio schedule (VR): a reinforcement schedule in which the number of
responses necessary to produce reinforcement varies from trial to trial
oThe value of the schedule refers to the average number of responses needed for
reinforcement
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