On the law of effect

J Exp Anal Behav. 1970 Mar;13(2):243-66. doi: 10.1901/jeab.1970.13-243.


Experiments on single, multiple, and concurrent schedules of reinforcement find various correlations between the rate of responding and the rate or magnitude of reinforcement. For concurrent schedules (i.e., simultaneous choice procedures), there is matching between the relative frequencies of responding and reinforcement; for multiple schedules (i.e., successive discrimination procedures), there are contrast effects between responding in each component and reinforcement in the others; and for single schedules, there are a host of increasing monotonic relations between the rate of responding and the rate of reinforcement. All these results, plus several others, can be accounted for by a coherent system of equations, the most general of which states that the absolute rate of any response is proportional to its associated relative reinforcement.