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Observing Behavior: Effects of Rate and Magnitude of Primary Reinforcement
Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
  • Timothy A. Shahan, Utah State University
Document Type
Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
Publication Date

Four experiments examined the free-operant observing behavior of rats. In Experiment 1, observing was a bitonic function of random-ratio schedule requirements for the primary reinforcer. In Experiment 2, decreases in the magnitude of the primary reinforcer decreased observing. Experiment 3 examined observing when a random-ratio schedule or a yoked random-time schedule of primary reinforcement was in effect across conditions. Removing the response requirement for the primary reinforcer increased observing, suggesting that the effects of the random-ratio schedule in Experiment 1 likely were due to an interaction between observing and responding for the primary reinforcer. In Experiment 4, decreasing the rate of primary reinforcement by increasing the duration of a random-time schedule decreased observing monotonically. Overall, these results suggest that observing decreases with decreases in the rate or magnitude of the primary reinforcer, but that behavior related to the primary reinforcer can affect observing and potentially affect measurement of conditioned reinforcing value.

Citation Information
Shahan, T. A. (2002). Observing Behavior: Effects of rate and magnitude of primary reinforcement. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 78,161-178.