Revisiting the Operant-Respondent Distinction

Posted May 28th, 2010 at 10:44 am.

Kathryn Bailey
Mentor: Dr. Paul Neuman

The distinction between respondent (Pavlovian) and operant discrimination has been demonstrated spatially using a multiple schedule. Marcucella (1981) suggested that respondent and operant conditioning can be separated temporally using a single key procedure, which allows for the analysis of the dynamics of superimposed respondent-operant behavior. The present research is modeled after Marcucella's but with the addition of a yoked procedure (a primary pigeon's behavior produces consequences for both pigeons, and the second pigeon's behavior is documented but does not affect the procedure). Three distinct multiple schedules with 4 components were used: the first multiple schedule began with a 6 second extinction period, followed by a variable interval (VI) one minute schedule in place for 54 seconds, another 6 second extinction period, and another VI one minute schedule for 54 seconds. In phase two, the stimuli present during the short periods were changed from "white" to "red" or "x". In phase three, one VI period was changed to extinction. The second condition was identical to the first except a random interval one minute schedule was used in place of the variable interval one minute schedule; the third condition was the same as the second except a blackout period followed reinforcement in the random interval one minute schedule. The results from the first two conditions did not support Marcucella's finding that respondent and operant conditioning can be temporally separated using a single key procedure. The third condition directly shows a respondent-operant distinction and suggests that adding a blackout period makes respondent discrimination more likely to occur after operant behavior with this type of multiple schedule.

Filed under: 2004,Bailey, Kathryn,Neuman, Dr. Paul by Ann Dixon

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