Document Detail

Distributed versus exclusive preference in discrete-trial choice.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  20658863     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Two experiments on discrete-trial choice examined the conditions under which pigeons would exhibit exclusive preference for the better of two alternatives as opposed to distributed preference (making some choices for each alternative). In Experiment 1, pigeons chose between red and green response keys that delivered food after delays of different durations, and in Experiment 2 they chose between red and green keys that delivered food with different probabilities. Some conditions of Experiment 1 had fixed delays to food and other conditions had variable delays. In both experiments, exclusive or nearly exclusive preference for the better alternative was found in some conditions, but distributed preference was found in other conditions, especially in Experiment 2 when key location varied randomly over trials. The results were used to evaluate several different theories about discrete-trial choice. The results suggest that exclusive preference for one alternative is a frequent outcome in discrete-trial choice. When distributed preference does occur, it is not the result of inherent tendencies to sample alternatives or to match response percentages to the values of the alternatives. Rather, distributed preference may occur when two factors (such as reinforcer delay and position bias) compete for the control of choice, or when the consequences for the two alternatives are similar and difficult to discriminate.
James E Mazur
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of experimental psychology. Animal behavior processes     Volume:  36     ISSN:  1939-2184     ISO Abbreviation:  J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process     Publication Date:  2010 Jul 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-07-27     Completed Date:  2010-11-15     Revised Date:  2011-08-01    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7504289     Medline TA:  J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  321-33     Citation Subset:  IM    
Psychology Department, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT 06515, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Choice Behavior / physiology*
Conditioning, Operant / physiology*
Reaction Time / physiology
Reinforcement (Psychology)*
Reinforcement Schedule*
Time Factors
Grant Support

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