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Chapter 8

PSYB45H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Matching Law, Eye Contact

Course Code
Jessica Dere

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Chapter 8 – Developing Behavioral Persistence With Schedules of Reinforcement (PSYB45)
Some Definitions
Intermittent reinforcement is an arrangement in which a behavior is positively
reinforced only occasionally
Response rate/response frequency is the number of times of behavior that occur in a
given period of time
Schedule of reinforcement is a rule specifying which occurrence of a given behavior, if
any, will be reinforced
Simplest sched of reinforcement is continuous reinforcement (CRF) which is an
arrangement in which each instance of a particular response is reinforced
Opposite is operant extinction – on an extinction sched, no instance of a given
behavior is reinforced
Between continuous reinforcement (CRF) & operant extinction is intermittent
reinforcement (many activities in natural environment are not reinforced all the
time, ex. work and pay)
Acquisition phase - while behavior is being conditioned or learned
Maintenance phase – after something is being well learned
Best to provide CRF during acquisition and then switch to intermittent reinforcement
during maintenance
Intermittent schedules of reinforcement have several advantages over CRF for
maintaining behavior:
a) Reinforce remains effective longer because satiation takes place 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
Ratio Schedules
Fixed-ratio (FR) schedule is a reinforcer that occurs each time a fixed number of
responses of a particular type are emitted
when considering the effects of schedules of reinforcement on response rate, we need to
distinguish between free-operant procedures and discrete-trial procedures
free-operant procedure is when person is free to response at various rates that there are
no constraints on successive responses
discrete-trials procedure is when person is not free to respond whenever because the
environment placed limits on availability of response opportunities
as response requirement increases, performance improves at first but then begins
to show ratio strain
FR sched produce high steady rate until reinforcement, followed by post-reinforcement
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Length of post-reinforcement pause depends on the value of the FR – higher the value,
longer the pause
FR schedules also produce high resistance to extinction
FR happens in everyday life
Variable-ratio (VR) schedule is a reinforcer that occurs after a certain number of
particular response, and the number of responses required for each reinforce changes
unpredictably from one reinforcer to the next
the number of responses required for each reinforcement in a VR varies around the mean
value, and the value is specified in the designation of that particular VR schedule
progressive ratio (PR) is increasingly popular in applied settings
PR is like FR, but ratio requirement increases by a specified amount after each
At the beginning of each session, the ratio requirement starts back at its original
value, after a few sessions, ratio requirements reaches a level called break
point/breaking point at which the individual stops responding completely
Typical effect of PR schedule is an increasingly longer pause after each
successive reinforcement and an indefinitely long pause at the break point
Main purpose of PR is to determine how potent, powerful or effective a particular
reinforce is for a person
Higher the reinforcer break point, the more effective
But it has been argued that PR doesn’t correlate w/ easier-to-apply and less
aversive measures of reinforce effectiveness, they should not be used in applied
settings with members of protected populations (ex.autistic)
Simple Interval Schedules
Fixed-interval (FI) schedule is a reinforce presented following the first instance of a
specific response after a fixed period of time
is a reinforce presented following the first instance of a specific response after a fixed
period of time
only requirement for a reinforce to occur is that the individual engage in behavior after
reinforcement has become available because of the passage of time
size of FI schedule = amount of time that must elapse b4 reinforcement becomes
available and response must occur sometime after the specified time interval
there is no limit on how long after the end of the interval a response can occur in order to
be reinforced
response occurring before the specified interval ends has no effect on the occurrence of
the reinforce
most rely on clocks to tell us when to do things that are reinforced on an FI schedule
(usually wait until reinforcer is available and then make a response and receive it)
when judging if behavior is reinforced on an FI schedule, should ask self 2 questions:
1. does reinforcement require only one response after the fixed interval of time
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