Document Detail

Instructional versus schedule control of humans' choices in situations of diminishing returns.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  16812747     Owner:  NLM     Status:  PubMed-not-MEDLINE    
Four adult humans chose repeatedly between a fixed-time schedule (of points later exchangeable for money) and a progressive-time schedule that began at 0 s and increased by a fixed number of seconds with each point delivered by that schedule. Each point delivered by the fixed-time schedule reset the requirements of the progressive-time schedule to its minimum value. Subjects were provided with instructions that specified a particular sequence of choices. Under the initial conditions, the instructions accurately specified the optimal choice sequence. Thus, control by instructions and optimal control by the programmed contingencies both supported the same performance. To distinguish the effects of instructions from schedule sensitivity, the correspondence between the instructed and optimal choice patterns was gradually altered across conditions by varying the step size of the progressive-time schedule while maintaining the same instructions. Step size was manipulated, typically in 1-s units, first in an ascending and then in a descending sequence of conditions. Instructions quickly established control in all 4 subjects but, by narrowing the range of choice patterns, they reduced subsequent sensitivity to schedule changes. Instructional control was maintained across the ascending sequence of progressive-time values for each subject, but eventually diminished, giving way to more schedule-appropriate patterns. The transition from instruction-appropriate to schedule-appropriate behavior was characterized by an increase in the variability of choice patterns and local increases in point density. On the descending sequence of progressive-time values, behavior appeared to be schedule sensitive, sometimes even optimally sensitive, but it did not always change systematically with the contingencies, suggesting the involvement of other factors.
T D Hackenberg; V R Joker
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of the experimental analysis of behavior     Volume:  62     ISSN:  0022-5002     ISO Abbreviation:  J Exp Anal Behav     Publication Date:  1994 Nov 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-06-29     Completed Date:  2010-06-29     Revised Date:  2010-09-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0203727     Medline TA:  J Exp Anal Behav     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  367-83     Citation Subset:  -    
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