Document Detail

Concurrent schedules of positive and negative reinforcement: differential-impact and differential-outcomes hypotheses.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  18683609     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Considerable evidence from outside of operant psychology suggests that aversive events exert greater influence over behavior than equal-sized positive-reinforcement events. Operant theory is largely moot on this point, and most operant research is uninformative because of a scaling problem that prevents aversive events and those based on positive reinforcement from being directly compared. In the present investigation, humans' mouse-click responses were maintained on similarly structured, concurrent schedules of positive (money gain) and negative (avoidance of money loss) reinforcement. Because gains and losses were of equal magnitude, according to the analytical conventions of the generalized matching law, bias (log b (double dagger) 0) would indicate differential impact by one type of consequence; however, no systematic bias was observed. Further research is needed to reconcile this outcome with apparently robust findings in other literatures of superior behavior control by aversive events. In an incidental finding, the linear function relating log behavior ratio and log reinforcement ratio was steeper for concurrent negative and positive reinforcement than for control conditions involving concurrent positive reinforcement. This may represent the first empirical confirmation of a free-operant differential-outcomes effect predicted by contingency-discriminability theories of choice.
Michael A Magoon; Thomas S Critchfield
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of the experimental analysis of behavior     Volume:  90     ISSN:  0022-5002     ISO Abbreviation:  J Exp Anal Behav     Publication Date:  2008 Jul 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2008-08-07     Completed Date:  2008-09-04     Revised Date:  2014-03-25    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0203727     Medline TA:  J Exp Anal Behav     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1-22     Citation Subset:  IM    
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MeSH Terms
Reinforcement (Psychology)*
Reinforcement Schedule

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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