Studies on responding under fixed-interval schedules of reinforcement: II. The scalloped pattern of the cumulative record

J Exp Anal Behav. 1978 Jan;29(1):67-75. doi: 10.1901/jeab.1978.29-67.


Responding under fixed-interval schedules usually generates either scalloped or break-and-run cumulative records. Earlier, it was generally accepted that the characteristic pattern was the scallop, but in recent years there has been an increasing emphasis on the break-and-run pattern. The break-and-run pattern has been shown quantitatively to provide a good fit of certain fixed-interval patterns. In the present work, responding during fixed-interval 1000-second components of a multiple fixed-interval 1000-second fixed-ratio 50 responses schedule was examined in two rhesus monkeys. Even after responding had started in an interval, there was a high tendency for responding to accelerate over subsequent 100-second segments of the interval. In segments with responding, the rate increased from one segment to the next in 303 of 389 segments in one monkey and in 310 of 419 segments in the other. The size of the increase was substantial, the rate in the fifth segment after responding started being an average of 4.5 times higher than the rate in the first segment after responding started. Hence, the usual pattern of responding in individual intervals was of sustained and substantial acceleration, vindicating numerically the conclusion derived from inspection of the scalloped patterns of the cumulative records.