Temporal control of behavior and the power law

C F Lowe, P Harzem, P T Spencer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    45 Citations (Scopus)


    The performance of rats and pigeons under fixed-interval schedules was studied in two experiments. The duration of postreinforcement pause was a declining proportion of fixed-interval duration. For pigeons this was true both when the duration of the reinforcer was fixed and when it was increased in direct proportion to increases in fixed-interval duration; the longer reinforcer durations did, however, lengthen the postreinforcement pause at higher schedule values. A quantitative analysis of data from Experiments 1 and 2 and from other studies showed that fractional exponent power functions described the relationship between postreinforcement pause and fixed-interval value; similar functions have previously been observed in studies of temporal differentiation. It was concluded that power functions reflect a direct causal, rather than artifactual, relationship between performance and the temporal requirements of reinforcement schedules.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)333-43
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of the experimental analysis of behavior
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - May 1979


    • Postreinforcement pause
    • Power law
    • Temporal control
    • Fixed interval
    • Reinforcement magnitude
    • Psychophysical scaling
    • Rats
    • Pigeons


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