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Schedules of Reinforcement


Schedules of Reinforcement ... These schedules require the passage of a specified amount of time before ... Variable ratio schedules produce an overall high ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Schedules of Reinforcement

Schedules of Reinforcement
  • The Effects of Intermittently Reinforcing Behavior

Schedules of Reinforcement
  • Behavior is not necessarily going to be
    reinforced every time it occurs
  • In real life, behavior is not often reinforced
    each time it occurred
  • A reinforcement schedule is a rule stating which
    instances of behavior, if any, will be reinforced
  • Intermittent reinforcement refers to
    reinforcement that is not administered to each
    instance of a response

Advantages of Intermittent Reinforcement
  • Economizing on time and reinforcers when
    reinforcement does not have to be administered
    for each instance of a behavior
  • Building persistent behavior which is much more
    resistant to extinction
  • Delays the effects of satiation since fewer
    reinforcements need to be delivered

Types of Schedules
  • Continuous reinforcement every instance of a
    behavior is reinforced
  • Ratio schedules Reinforcement is based on the
    number of behaviors required
  • Interval schedules Reinforcement is based on the
    passage of time
  • Duration schedules Reinforcement is based on the
    continued performance of a response for a period
    of time
  • Fixed schedules The requirements for
    reinforcement are always the same
  • Variable schedules The requirements for
    reinforcement change randomly

Schedules of Reinforcement
  • Continuous reinforcement refers to reinforcement
    being administered to each instance of a response
  • Intermittent reinforcement lies between
    continuous reinforcement and extinction

An Example of Continuous Reinforcement
  • Each instance of a smile is reinforced

Fixed Ratio Reinforcement
  • A fixed number of responses is required for each
  • These schedules are designated FRn where nthe
    number of responses required
  • These schedules usually produce rapid rates of
    responding with short post-reinforcement pauses
  • The length of the pause is directly proportional
    to the number of responses required

An example of Fixed Ratio Reinforcement
  • Every fourth instance of a smile is reinforced

Graph of Fixed Ratio Responding
Fixed Interval Reinforcement
  • These schedules require the passage of a
    specified amount of time before reinforcement
    will be delivered contingent on a response
  • No response during the interval is reinforced
  • The first response following the end of the
    interval is reinforced
  • This schedule usually produces a scalloped
    pattern of responding in which little behavior is
    produced early in the interval, but as the
    interval nears an end, the rate of responding
  • This also produces an overall low rate of

Graph of Fixed Interval Responding
Variable Schedules of Reinforcement
  • Variable schedules differ from fixed schedules in
    that the behavioral requirement for reinforcement
    varies randomly from one reinforcement to the
  • This usually produces a more consistent pattern
    of responding without post-reinforcement pauses
  • Variable ratio schedules produce an overall high
    consistent rate of responding
  • Variable interval schedules produce an overall
    low consistent rate of responding

An Example of Variable Ratio Reinforcement
  • Random instances of the behavior are reinforced

Graph of Variable Ratio Responding
Graph of Variable Interval Responding
Fixed and Variable Duration Schedules
  • The response is required to continue for a
    specified or variable period of time for
    reinforcement to be delivered
  • These schedules produce a continuous rate of
    behavior since that is the requirement for

Extinction of Intermittently Reinforced Behavior
  • The less often and the more inconsistently
    behavior is reinforced, the longer it will take
    to extinguish the behavior, other things being
  • Behaviors that are reinforced on a thin
    schedule are more resistant to extinction than
    behaviors reinforced on a more dense schedule
  • Behavior that is reinforced on a variable
    schedule will be more resistant to extinction
    than behavior reinforced on a fixed schedule

Reducing Reinforcer Density
  • Large amounts of behavior can be obtained with
    very little reinforcement using intermittent
  • Initially, behavior needs dense schedules of
    reinforcement to establish it, preferably
    continuous reinforcement
  • As the behavior is strengthened, reinforcement
    can be gradually reduced in frequency
  • Start with as low a density as the behavior can
    tolerate and decrease the density as responding
    is strengthened

  • If it is reduced too quickly, signs of extinction
    may be observed
  • Response rate may slow down
  • Inconsistent responding may be seen
  • May see an increase in other responses
  • This is known as schedule strain
  • If this happens, retreat to a denser
    reinforce-ment schedule
  • Adding a conditioned reinforcer in between
    reinforcements can help bridge the gap

Variations of Reinforcement Schedules I Limited
  • This is applied when a faster rate of responding
    is desired with a fixed interval schedule
  • Response rate can be slowed down if response is
    not made soon after the end of the interval
  • By limiting how long the reinforcer is available
    following the end of the interval, responding can
    be speeded up
  • If the response is not made within that period,
    the reinforcement is lost and another is not
    available until the end of the next interval

Variations of Reinforcement Schedules II
Concurrent Schedules
  • Two or more basic schedules are operating
    independently at the same time for two or more
    different behaviors
  • The organism has a choice of behaviors and
  • This provides a better analog for real-life
    situations because reinforcement is often
    available for more than one response class or
    from more than one source or both

Concurrent Schedules (contd)
  • When similar reinforcement is scheduled for each
    of the concurrent responses
  • the response receiving the higher frequency
    of reinforcement will increase in rate
  • the response requiring the least effort
    will increase in rate
  • the response providing the most immediate
    reinforcement will increase in rate

Matching Law and Maximizing
  • The proportion of responses made to each schedule
    will be proportionate to the ratio of reinforcers
    available under each schedule
  • Maximizing subjects switch back and forth
    between alternatives to receive maximum
  • Concurrent ratio schedules little
    switching back and forth
  • Concurrent interval schedules the subjects
    can earn close to all of the reinforcements on
    both schedules

Example of the Matching Law
  • You are speaking to 2 people, providing them with
    information that is of interest to them.
  • When you look at each person, person A is looking
    at you (the reinforcement) about 75 of the time
    and looking away about 25 of the time.
  • Person B is looking at you about 25 of the time
    and looking away about 75 of the time.
  • About what percent of the time will you be
    looking at each person?

Variations of Reinforcement Schedules II Chained
  • Two or more basic schedule requirements are in
    place, one schedule occurring at a time but in a
    specified sequence
  • There is usually a cue that is correlated with a
    specific schedule and is present as long as the
    schedule is in effect
  • Reinforcement for responding in the 1st component
    is the presentation of the 2nd
  • Reinforcement does not occur until the final
    component is performed

Variations of Reinforcement Schedules III
Conjunctive Schedules
  • The requirements for two or more schedules must
    be met simultaneously
  • Task/interval interactions
  • When the task requirements are high and the
    interval is short, steady work throughout the
    interval will be the result
  • When task requirements are low and the
    interval long, many nontask behaviors will be