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Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, v92 n3 p345-365 Nov 2009

The present research used pigeons in a three-key operant chamber and varied procedural features pertaining to both initial and terminal links of concurrent chains. The initial links randomly alternated on the side keys during a session, while the terminal links always appeared on the center key. Both equal and unequal initial-link schedules were employed, with either differential or nondifferential terminal-link stimuli across conditions. The research was designed to neutralize initial- and terminal-link spatial cues in order to gain a clearer understanding of the roles of conditioned reinforcement and delayed primary reinforcement in choice. With both equal and unequal initial links and with differential terminal-link stimuli, all pigeons reliably preferred the chain with the shorter terminal link. However, with equal initial links and nondifferential stimuli, all pigeons were indifferent. With unequal initial links and nondifferential stimuli, some pigeons were also indifferent, while others actually reversed and preferred the chain with the shorter initial link, even though it was followed by the longer terminal link. The decrease if not reversal of the previous preferences implies that preferences in concurrent chains are a function of the conditioned reinforcement afforded by terminal-link stimuli, rather than delayed primary reinforcement. (Contains 2 tables and 9 figures.)

Descriptors: Cues, Reinforcement, Animals, Behavioral Science Research, Visual Stimuli, Research Methodology, Spatial Ability, Operant Conditioning

Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. Available from: Indiana University Department of Psychology. Bloomington, IN 47405-1301. Tel: 812-334-0395; FAX: 812-855-4691; e-mail: jeab[at]; Web site:

Autor: Moore, J.


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