The Role Of Positive Conditioned Reinforcement In The Maintenance Of Keypecking Which Prevents Delivery Of Primary Reinforcement
When a pecking key is briefly illuminated prior to the presentation of a grain reinforcer, keypecking is reliably developed and maintained in pigeons, even when pecking extinguishes the keylifeht and prevents reinforcement (negative automaintenance). This experiment assessed the role of response-produced key offset as a possible conditioned positive reinforcer of keypecking. Pigeons responded in a substantial proportion of the trials (50%–66%) on a procedure in which key illumination coterminated with reinforcer availability, and in which keypecks prevented reinforcement but did not extinguish the keylight. Thus, the notion that negative automaintenance keypecking is a function of conditioned positive reinforcement must be rejected.