Reinforcer quality matters: A test of the Mathematical Principles of Reinforcement with domestic hens (Gallus gallus domesticus)

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Journal Article
Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 2019, 112 (1), pp. 88 - 96
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© 2019 Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior This study evaluated the ability of Killeen's (1994) Mathematical Principles of Reinforcement to account for the effects of changes in reinforcer quality on hens' rates of responding on fixed-ratio schedules. Hens were trained to peck a key on a fixed-ratio schedule of reinforcement and then experienced an ascending series of ratio values in two separate conditions. In different conditions, the food reinforcer was either wheat or puffed wheat. Response rates initially increased with increases in ratio requirement before eventually decreasing at larger ratios. Quantitative fits of the model accounted for the data well. The fits revealed that different foods were systematically associated with changes in the specific activation parameter, a, and these were consistent with previous reports of preference for those food items.
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