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Animal Learning & Behavior


Rats barpressed for food on a variable-interval schedule and then received food in a runway for one of three degrees of effort. Finally, all animals again barpressed for food. Requiring five runway shuttles per food pellet produced a greater subsequent rate of barpressing than reward for each shuttle, which, in turn, yielded more barpressing than free food. A follow-up study showed the five-shuttle treatment to produce more subsequent barpressing than a control condition which omitted any runway treatment. Another experiment indicated that the higher rate of barpressing following the five-shuttle treatment was not due to greater conditioned general activity, since the five-shuttle treatment failed to increase the number of grid crossings to the cue of food presentation and produced no more unconditioned barpressing than following free food in the runway. Two possible interpretations of the results were compared: (1) The degree of accustomed effort per reinforcer becomes a generalized component of instrumental behavior, (2) high effort increases the habituation of frustration-produced disruptive responses. © 1979 Psychonomic Society, Inc.

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