Paper in Learning & Behavior
  • Costa, D.S.J. and Boakes, R.A. (2007) Maintenance of responding when reinforcement becomes delayed. Learning & Behavior, 35(2), 95-105.

    In four experiments with rats, we examined the persistence of behavior when reinforcement was switched from immediate to delayed. In Experiment 1, lever pressing elicited by instrumental training with immediate reinforcement continued when a 20-sec delay of reinforcement was introduced (easy-to-hard condition), whereas when the delay condition was introduced from the start (hard-to-hard condition), responding remained low throughout. A similar result was obtained in Experiment 2, in which lever pressing was elicited by a classical conditioning (autoshaping) procedure. In Experiment 3, rats initially trained with delayed reinforcement continued to respond at a low rate when switched to immediate reinforcement (hard-to-easy condition). By measuring magazine entry (goal tracking) as well as lever pressing (sign tracking) in Experiment 4, we confirmed that such transfer effects at least partly involve the persistence of whatever type of behavior was initially dominant.