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Preference for Accumulated and Distributed Token Exchange-Production Schedules: Effects of Task Difficulty and Variable Token-Production Schedules




Falligant, John

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation




Organisms allocate behavior to simultaneously available schedules of reinforcement as a function of different dimensions of reinforcement (e.g., delays, magnitude, response effort). Previous research suggests that accumulated exchange-production schedules promote increased work completion and are more preferred than distributed exchange-production schedules despite the commensurate delays to reinforcement. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate whether the response effort or token-production schedules associated with token delivery influence preferences for exchange-production schedules. Tokens exchanged under accumulated schedules supported higher rates of responding and were more preferred, relative to distributed schedules, when they were earned for completing easy tasks (Experiment 1). When participants earned tokens for completing difficult tasks, they generally preferred accumulated exchangeproduction schedules, although accumulated schedules were not significantly more effective than distributed schedules in maintaining behavior (Experiment 2). Under dense token-production schedules, accumulated exchange-production schedules were preferred, but participant’s preferences switched to distributed schedules under increasing token-production (i.e., leaner) schedules (Experiment 3).