Partial reinforcement and resistance to extinction

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Robert Charles Mellon (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Richard L. Shull

Abstract: Schoenfeld (1950) proposed that manipulations of rates of reinforcement have two conflicting effects on resistance to extinction. Leaner schedules reinforce behavior less frequently, which results in less resistance to extinction. But leaner schedules also reinforce more different movements, or response forms, resulting in increased resistance to extinction. Experiment 1 tested whether partial schedules indeed maintain a wider range of response forms. In a multiple schedule, pigeons' sequences of 6 keypecks were partially reinforced in one context and continuously reinforced in a second context. Partial schedules tended to maintain a wider range of response forms than continuous schedules, but produced responding that was less resistant to extinction, suggesting that if the reinforcement of a wider range of response forms enhanced resistance, that effect was weaker than a conflicting effect of less frequent reinforcement. Two additional experiments tested the effects in extinction of the reinforcement of a wider range of response forms in the absence of differences in rates of reinforcement. In Experiment 2, a multiple schedule was arranged; in one context, 6-peck sequences were reinforced only if they differed in form (sequence) from the previously-reinforced sequence. In the other, redundant 6-peck sequences could be reinforced. Responding was more resistant to extinction when variability in form was required

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1987
Reinforcement (Psychology)
Extinction (Psychology)

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