Reinforcement Creates Behavioral Units

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Behaviour Analysis Letters


10 White Carneaux pigeons were trained to peck keys in a Gerbrands pigeon chamber. When food reinforcement depended upon any 1 of 70 possible sequences of 4 pecks on each of 2 keys, Ss developed particular dominant sequences that occurred on about 90% of all trials. In well-trained Ss, extinction had little effect on either sequence variability or sequence completion time. In less well-trained Ss, extinction increased both sequence variability and sequence completion time. With repeated exposure to extinction, sequence variability and sequence completion time were unaffected. Data suggest that reinforcement can turn an arbitrary sequence of responses into an integrated behavioral unit. (14 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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