A Failure To Transfer Control Of Keypecking From Food Reinforcement To Escape From And Avoidance Of Shock

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Bulletin Of The Psychonomic Society


Three pigeons, trained to key peck for food reinforcement, were shifted to a procedure in which keypecks avoided or escaped electric shocks. Keypecking essentially ceased by the sixth session on this procedure. After 24 sessions of food reinforcement for pecking on a variable interval (VI) schedule, the avoidance-escape procedure was reintroduced, and keypecking ceased by the fourth session. Another period of VI food reinforcement, followed by another period of avoidance-escape, produced the same result. The same value of shock employed in the avoidance-escape procedure successfully eliminated the keypecking that produced it (punishment). These results supportBolles’s (1970) discussion of species-specific defense reactions and are consistent with other failures to transfer control of responding from one reinforcer to another.

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