Psychology Notes

What are the two types of Choice Behavior?

Simple Choice and Concurrent Choice

How do we study Choice Behavior in the lab?

With Skinner boxes and lever-pressing behavior.

What happens during simple choice procedures?

There are two response alternatives, each on its own schedule of reinforcement.

What are Concurrent Schedules? What are some real world examples?

Allow for continuous measurement of choice because the organism is free to change between the response alternatives at any time.

How to measure Choice Behavior using Concurrent Choice Procedures?

Calculate relative rate of responding for alternatvies. Rate of responding for alternative divided by total rate of responding.

Relative Rates of Responding (formula)


Relative Rate of Reinforcement (formula)

rL/(rL+rR) - influenced by Relative Rates of Responding

The Matching Law (and formula)

BL/BR = rL/rR - Relative Rates or Responding match Relative Rate of Reinforcement

When can the Matching Law not be true

If Sensitivity and response bias are not taken into account with a generalized formula BL/BR = b(rL/rR)^s

Response Bias in the Matching Law

Bias for a response alternative because more effort is required for other alternatives without a significantly stronger reinforcer.

What does the Matching Law predict and NOT predict?

Does not predict that a choice will occur, it predicts the fraction of time in which a certain choice will occur.

Molecular Maximization

Choosing whatever alternative is most likely to be reinforced at the time.

Molar Maximization

Distributing choices among alternatives to maximize amount of reinforcement in the "long run".


Acting to make something better. Choices are not optimal in the long run.


Choice of a larger, delayed reinforcer over a smaller, less delayed reinforcer.


Chocie of a smaller, more immediate reinforcer over a larger, more delayed reinforcer.

Factors that influence impulsivity

Reinforcer type, quality, amount, and delay

How is impulsivity affected by delay to reinforcement

As delay for both reinforcers increase, choice for self-control increases.

Direct Choice Procedure

Impulsivity varies as a function of delay.

Concurrent Chain Procedure

Involves two stages. Choice link - participant chooses between two alternatives by making one of two responses. Terminal link - creates a reinforcement schedule for the choice made in the choice link, but not the alternatives. Precommitment is involved.


Making some prior decision which limits alternative options in decision-making.

Value Discounting Function

The value of a reinforcer is reduced by how long you have to wait to get it. Predicts delay is inversely related to reinforcer value.

Value Discounting Function (formula) - Know how k relates to impulsivity

V=M/(1+KD) where V = value of reinforcer, M = reward magnitude, D = reward delay, and K = the discounting rate. K increases, V decreases; K decreases, V increases.Differences between Associative Structure and Behavioral Regulatory perspectives?

Associate Structure vs. Behavioral Regulation Perspectives

Associated - Pavlovian, Molecular, Two-Process Theory and S-O Associations. Behavioral - Skinnerian, Molar

Two-Process Theory

Assumes that there are two distinct types of learning: Pavlovian and instrumental conditioning.

S-O Association

Stimulus-Outcome association.

Consummatory-Response Theory

Reinforcers are not just special types of stimuli. Species-typical consummatory responses are themselves critical features of reinforcement. Reinforcers are special responses.

Premack Principle

Difference between likelihood of instrumental and reinforcer responses. Less preferred task before preferred task equals reinforcement of less preferred task

Premack Principle (Instrumental and Reinforcer Responses)

Instrumental responses are the initial, less-preferred task; Reinforcer responses are the "reward" or high-preference tasks;

Response Deprivation Hypothesis

Probability of reinforcer responding is due to restricted access to reinforcer. Low probability responses can be reinforcer if restricted from it before hand.

What does the Response Deprivation Hypothesis suggest about how instrumental conditioning procedures affect reinforcement?

Reinforcer does not exist independent of instrumental conditioning.

Behavioral Bliss Point

Optimal response distribution. Frequency of responses in an unconstrained situation. Organisms will defend against changes to bliss point; usually cannot be reestablished once changed.

How to plot Bliss Point and minimal deviation points

Empty circle represents bliss point between two alternatives; line represents schedule or restrictions to alternatives; black dot represents equilibrium point closest to bliss point.

Behavioral Regulation functions much like _____________.


Comparisons between what Psychologists and Economists study

Income = # of instrumental responses made; Price of Goods = # of responses needed for reinforcer

Consumer Demand

Relation between price of a commodity and how much is purchased. Price of item represents reinforcer schedule.

Elasticity of Demand

Degree to which price influences consumption. High elasticity means prices have large influence on purchasing behavior while low elasticity means the opposite.

What factors affect Elasticity of Demand?

Availability of Substitutes (alternative forms of reinforcement) - Price Range (increases in price have less effect at low rather than high prices) - Income Level (the more you earn the less disrupted purchasing behavior will be; influences substitutes)

What are two problems with Behavioral Regulation approaches?

Bliss Point - must assume that behaviors performed in absense of constraints are the same as when those contraints are imposed. (expirementer and environmental constraints)

Crombag & Shaham Study

Rats self-administered drug more if in the same context as when conditioned to it. Change of location helps with drug addiction.