Response persistence under ratio and interval reinforcement schedules

Kennon A. Lattal, Mark P. Reilly, James P. Kohn

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20 Scopus citations


In Experiment 1, rats were exposed to progressive-ratio schedules of food reinforcement while other rats were exposed simultaneously to yoked-interval schedules that arranged equivalent interreinforcer intervals but required only a single response at the end of the interval for food delivery. In Experiment 2, a within-subject yoked-control procedure was employed in which pigeons were exposed to alternating sessions (one per day) of progressive-ratio schedules and yoked-interval schedules as described above. In both experiments, responding under the yoked-interval schedule persisted beyond the point at which responding under the progressive-ratio schedule had ceased. The progressive-ratio schedules controlled break-and-run distributions, and the yoked-interval schedules controlled more even distributions of responses in time. Response rates decreased and postreinforcement pauses increased over time within individual sessions under both schedules. The results suggest that responding maintained by interval schedules is more persistent than that maintained by ratio schedules. The limitations and implications of this conclusion are discussed in the context of other investigations of response strength and behavioral momentum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-183
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Key peck
  • Lever press
  • Pigeons
  • Progressive ratio
  • Rats
  • Response persistence
  • Yoked interval


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