Preference for 50% reinforcement over 75% reinforcement by pigeons

Cassandra Gipson-Reichardt, J. J D Alessandri, Holly C. Miller, Thomas R. Zentall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

When pigeons are given a choice between an initial-link alternative that results in either a terminal-link stimulus correlated with 100% reinforcement or a stimulus correlated with 0% reinforcement (overall 50% reinforcement) and another initial-link alternative that always results in a terminal-link stimulus correlated with 100% reinforcement, some pigeons show a preference for the initial-link alternative correlated with 50% reinforcement. Using this procedure, in Experiment 1, we found a relatively modest preference for 100% over 50% reinforcement. In Experiment 2, we decreased the reinforcement density for the second initial-link alternative to 75% and found a significant preference for the 50% reinforcement initial-link alternative. It may be that this "maladaptive" behavior results from a positive contrast between the expectation of reinforcement correlated with the 50% reinforcement initial-link alternative and the terminal-link stimulus correlated with 100% reinforcement. But apparently, the complementary negative contrast does not develop between the expectation of reinforcement correlated with the 50% reinforcement initial-link alternative and the terminal-link stimulus correlated with 0% reinforcement that often follow. Such paradoxical choice may account for certain human appetitive risk-taking behavior (e.g., gambling) as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-298
Number of pages10
JournalLearning and Behavior
Volume37
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes

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Columbidae
Reinforcement (Psychology)
Reinforcement
Gambling
Risk-Taking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

Cite this

Preference for 50% reinforcement over 75% reinforcement by pigeons. / Gipson-Reichardt, Cassandra; Alessandri, J. J D; Miller, Holly C.; Zentall, Thomas R.

In: Learning and Behavior, Vol. 37, No. 4, 11.2009, p. 289-298.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gipson-Reichardt, Cassandra ; Alessandri, J. J D ; Miller, Holly C. ; Zentall, Thomas R. / Preference for 50% reinforcement over 75% reinforcement by pigeons. In: Learning and Behavior. 2009 ; Vol. 37, No. 4. pp. 289-298.
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