Signal properties of reinforcement and reinforcement omission on a multiple fixed-ratio schedule

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A series of experiments used food-deprived pigeons to examine several parameters of reinforcement omission in an attempt to control changes of keypeck response measures on a subsequent schedule. In Experiments 1 and 2, the pigeons were tested with a multiple fixed-ratio schedule on which reinforcement was occasionally omitted at the completion of the first component. The duration of the delay occurring in lieu of reinforcement was systematically varied. In Experiment 3, the stimulus that signaled the second component of the schedule was altered to appear either more or less similar to the stimulus that signaled the first component. Two principal results are reported: (1) Response latency decreased and, to a much lesser extent, terminal response rate increased as the delay occurring in lieu of reinforcement decreased; and (2) both latency decrease and response-rate increase were enhanced by a second component stimulus which was similar to the first. The results are evaluated in terms of Amsel's frustration theory and an analysis by Staddon which suggests that reinforcement inhibits responding. The data appear to support Staddon's argument that rate increases and latency decreases following reinforcement omission are largely a function of an attenuation of the inhibitory influence of reinforcement, an effect that is enhanced by stimulus generalization. Accordingly, it is proposed that an animal's response to reinforcement omission is determined by a stimulus complex that minimally includes the omission event and component cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-193
Number of pages7
JournalAnimal Learning & Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1985
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Signal properties of reinforcement and reinforcement omission on a multiple fixed-ratio schedule'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this