George Stanley Reynolds's A primer of operant conditioning PDF

By George Stanley Reynolds

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The presentation of the controlling stimulus never guarantees that the response will follow, as does the presentation of an eliciting stimulus. However, under appropriate circumstances, the chances are so high that we can be virtually certain that the response will Occur when the discriminative stimulus is presented. In that case, even though the stimulus is in fact discriminative, it may seem to elicit the response. In the last chapter, we saw that the effect of reinforcement on the probability of reoccurrence of the response is essentially instantaneous.

Er .. :.. l~ter . s ponding to . a very low level. Usually, extinction virtually eliminates responding or brings it back to (or near) its level before reinforcement. We have also seen that extinction does not usually produce an immediate decrease in the frequency of the response. Rather, there is often a brief increase in responding immediately following the onset of extinction. The topography of the . response also changes at the start extinction, and the response becomes more forceful and variable for a short time.

The discrimination is by no means perfect: the pigeon does not respond only in the presence of one stimulus and not at all in the presence of another. Rather, the tendency to respond is different in the presence of each. Sometimes the difference is large, as between the rates prevailing with red light and with yellow light in the above experiment. Sometimes it is very small or negligible, as it Stimulus Control of Operant Behavior 41 would be between the rates prevailing in the presence of two yellow lights of only slightly different brightnesses.

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A primer of operant conditioning by George Stanley Reynolds


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