INTERRESPONSE-TIME SHAPING BY VARIABLE-INTERVAL-LIKE INTERRESPONSE-TIME REINFORCEMENT CONTINGENCIES1
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The interresponse-time reinforcement contingencies and distributions of interreinforcement intervals characteristic of certain variable-interval schedules were mimicked by reinforcing each key peck with a probability equal to the duration of the interresponse time it terminated, divided by the scheduled mean interreinforcement interval. The interresponse-time reinforcement contingency was then eliminated by basing the probability of reinforcement on the fifth interresponse time preceding the key peck. Even though distributions of interreinforcement intervals were unaffected by this manipulation, response rates consistently increased. A second experiment replicated this effect and showed it to combine additively with that of mean reinforcement rate. These results provide strong support for the contention that current analyses of variable-interval response rates that ignore the inherent interresponse-time reinforcement contingency may be seriously in error.
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