Alternative reinforcement and resistance to change

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Mary Elizabeth Tota-Faucette (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Rosemery Nelson-Gray

Abstract: If alternative reinforcement is given in a context where a target behavior is occurring, the persistence, or resistance to change, of the target behavior increases. In previous reports, it was hypothesized that the discriminative stimulus for the target behavior acquired an excitatory effect as a result of signalling the alternative reinforcement (a Pavlovian contingency). This excitatory effect of the discriminative stimulus was assumed to be responsible for the enhanced persistence. The present research program set out to examine several other interpretive accounts of the effect of alternative reinforcement. An additional goal was to extend the generality of past findings. Although the discriminative stimulus might exert the evocative effect responsible for enhanced persistence, it is also possible that the context (or contextual cues) can exert the evocative effects. In Experiment 1, pigeons were trained to respond to a single discriminative stimulus (SD). This SD was presented in two contexts, one corrrelated with a rich source of alternative reinforcement and the other with a lean source. What was found was that the contextual cue which signalled the richer reinforcement context (due to the richer source of alternative reinforcement) led to enhanced persistence (as assessed by extinction and two types of satiation procedures) of the target response.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1991
Reinforcement (Psychology)
Behavior modification
Conditioned response

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