Pigeons responded in an observing‐response procedure in which three fixed‐interval components alternated. Pecking one response key produced food reinforcement according to a mixed schedule. Pecking the second (observing) key occasionally replaced the mixed‐schedule stimulus with the stimulus correlated with the fixed‐interval component then in effect. In Experiment 1, observing was best maintained by stimuli correlated with a reduction in mean time to reinforcement. That finding was consistent with the conditioned‐reinforcement hypothesis of observing behavior. However, low rates of observing were also maintained by stimuli not representing delay reduction. Experiment 2 assessed the role of sensory reinforcement. It showed that response rate was higher when maintained by stimuli uncorrelated with reinforcement delay than when the stimuli were correlated with a delay increase. This latter result supports a symmetrical version of the conditioned‐reinforcement hypothesis that requires suppression by stimuli correlated with an increase in time to reinforcement. The results were inconsistent with hypotheses stressing the reinforcing potency of uncertainty reduction.
Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 1981
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