Temporal control of behavior and the power law

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • C F Lowe
  • P Harzem
  • P T Spencer
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-43
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the experimental analysis of behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1979

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.

    Research areas

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

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