Failure To Produce Response Variability With Reinforcement

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Journal Of The Experimental Analysis Of Behavior


Two experiments attempted to train pigeons to produce variable response sequences. In the first, naive pigeons were exposed to a procedure requiring four pecks on each of two keys in any order, with a reinforcer delivered only if a given sequence was different from the preceding one. In the second experiment, the same pigeons were exposed to this procedure after having been trained successfully to alternate between two specific response sequences. In neither case did any pigeon produce more than a few different sequences or obtain more than 50% of the possible reinforcers. Stereotyped sequences developed even though stereotypy was not reinforced. It is suggested that reinforcers have both hedonic and informative properties and that the hedonic properties are responsible for sterotyped repetition of reinforced responses, even when stereotypy is negatively related to reinforcer delivery.