Determinants of pausing under variable-ratio schedules: Reinforcer magnitude, ratio size, and schedule configuration

J Exp Anal Behav. 1988 Jul;50(1):65-73. doi: 10.1901/jeab.1988.50-65.

Abstract

Pigeons pecked a key under two-component multiple variable-ratio schedules that offered 8-s or 2-s access to grain. Phase 1 assessed the effects of differences in reinforcer magnitude on postreinforcement pausing, as a function of ratio size. In Phase 2, postreinforcement pausing and the first five interresponse times in each ratio were measured as a function of differences in reinforcer magnitude under equal variable-ratio schedules consisting of different configurations of individual ratios. Rates were also calculated exclusive of postreinforcement pause times in both phases. The results from Phase 1 showed that as ratio size increased, the differences in pausing educed by unequal reinforcer magnitudes also increased. The results of Phase 2 showed that the effects of reinforcer magnitude on pausing and IRT durations were a function of schedule configuration. Under one configuration, in which the smallest ratio was a fixed-ratio 1, pauses were unaffected by magnitude but the first five interresponse times were affected. Under the other configuration, in which the smallest ratio was a fixed-ratio 7, pauses were affected by reinforcer magnitude but the first five interresponse times were not. The effect of each configuration seemed to be determined by the value of the smallest individual ratio. Rates calculated exclusive of postreinforcement pause times were, in general, directly related to reinforcer magnitude, and the relation was shown to be a function of schedule configuration.