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The Effect of partial reinforcement before and after continuous reinforcement on acquisition level and resistance to extinction. Husband, James Dalla Thorne

Abstract

Sutherland, Mackintosh, and Wolfe (1965) demonstrated that continuous reinforcement given subsequent to partial reinforcement resulted in superior resistance to extinction than did continuous reinforcement administered prior to partial reinforcement. Because the experimenters did not make compensations for different acquisition asymptotes in their analysis of the extinction data, the interpretation of their results is questionable. Thelos and McGinnis (1967) obtained results contrary to those obtained by the latter experimenters. This study was run in order to obtain additional information pertaining to the effects of shifts of reinforcement schedules on resistance to extinction. Extended acquisition trials were used with the expectation of bringing the six experimental groups up to the same terminal asymptotic levels. When Ss were approximately 45 days old, Ss were randomly assigned to one of six acquisition conditions. These conditions were: 96 partial reinforcement trials, 192 partial reinforcement trials, 96 partial reinforcement trials followed by 96 continuous reinforcement trials, 96 continuous reinforcement trials followed by 96 partial reinforcement trials, 192 continuous reinforcement trials, and 96 continuous reinforcement trials. Following training in a straight runway, all Ss received 60 nonreward trials given in blocks of 6 trials a day. Time measures were taken of runway performance on acquisition and extinction trials. The results supported the hypothesis that extended training would produce equivalent terminal asymptotic running speeds in acquisition. None of the hypotheses made by Sutherland, Mackintosh, and Wolfe (1965) or by Thelos and McGinnis (1967) were supported by the results of the experiment; no significant partial reinforcement effect was obtained.

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