Performance on ratio and interval schedules with matched reinforcement rates

Q J Exp Psychol B. 1990 Aug;42(3):225-39.


In the first study, rats were trained to pull a chain on a schedule (RPI) that regulates the probability of reinforcement to maintain a constant average reinforcement rate without differentially reinforcing long inter-response times (IRTs). Although the response rate was sensitive to the overall rate of reinforcement, performance was unaffected by variations between 1 and 50 in the IRT memory size used in programming the schedule. In the second study, two groups of animals performed on either a random-interval (RI) schedule or a RPI schedule, with reinforcement rates determined by those generated by a third group performing on a random ratio (RR) 20 schedule. The RI group responded at a lower rate than the RPI group, which, in turn, responded at a lower rate than the RR group, even though the three groups experienced comparable rates of reinforcement. The fact that the RPI group responded at a lower rate than the RR group suggests that the standard response rate difference observed between ratio and interval schedules, which have been matched for reinforcement rate, cannot be attributed solely to the fact that conventional interval schedules differentially reinforce long IRTs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Reinforcement Schedule*