Reinforcement Schedules

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Schedules of Reinforcement

Rules that state the relationship between a certain behaviour and its consequences, defined in terms of duration or time or number of responses required to present a reinforcer

Continuous Reinforcement

Every occurrence of an operant response is reinforced

Continuous Reinforcement Factors (3)

Leads to rapid acquisition of a target behaviour, as well as rapid increase in target behaviour, but is not common in real life situations

Intermittent Reinforcement

The target behaviour is only reinforced on some occassions

Four types of Intermittent Schedules

Fixed Ratio, Fixed Interval, Variable Ratio, Variable Interval

Fixed Ratio

A reinforcer is delivered after a fixed number of responses

Variable Ratio

A reinforcer is delivered after a number of responses, varying around an average

Fixed Interval

A reinforcer is delivered after a fixed length of time

Variable Interval

A reinforcer is delivered after a length of time, varying around an average

Three Schedule Effects

Rate of responding, Pattern of responding, Resistance to extinction

Rate of responding

Controlled by how frequently the target behaviour is reinforced, so rich schedules produce higher rater and ratio schedules produce higher rates

Pattern of responding - variable ratio

Steady, rapid rate of responding

Pattern of responding - fixed ratio

Steady, rapid rate of responding with post-reinforcement pause

Pattern of responding - fixed interval

Acceleration of responding following the post-reinforcement pause, until the delivery of a reinforcer (overall a low rate of response)

Pattern of responding - variable interval

Steady, moderate rate of responding

Partial Reinforcement Extinction Effect (Who, what)

Humphrey, partial or intermittent reinforcement schedules are more resistant to extinction than continuous reinforcement schedules

What schedule types are more resistant to extinction? (3)

Ratio, Variable, Lean

Discrimination Hypothesis

In order for behaviour to change, a subject must be able to discriminate the changes in reinforcement contingency (which is harder when intermittent)

Generalisation Decrement Hypothesis

There is decreased responding in a generalisation test when the test stimulus becomes less similar to the training stimulus

What causes post-reinforcement pause? (3 Hypotheses)

Satiation, Fatigue, Remaining-Responses

Satiation Hypothesis

Reinforcers decrease in strength over time; incorrect as longer pauses are found with longer fixed ratio schedules

Fatigue Hypothesis

The subject is tired after responding and so pauses to recover after reinforcement; incorrect as subjects often work harder and without pauses

Remaining-Responses Hypothesis

After receiving a reinforcer, the subject realises that they are the furthest away from receiving their next reinforcer; correct with support from multiple schedules research

Multiple Schedules

A subject is presented with two or more different reinforcement schedules one at a time, signaled by different discriminative stimuli

Why do subjects respond faster on VR than VI schedules? (2 Hypotheses)

Modal, Molecular

Modal Theory

There is a linear relationship between response rate and reinforcer rate for VR schedules, but there is an asymptote for VI schedules, so higher response rates aren't worth the effort

Molecular Theory

Longer inter-response times are more frequently reinforced on VI schedules than VR schedules, which are reinforced by shorter inter-response times

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