By George Stanley Reynolds

Publication through Reynolds, George Stanley

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ACQUISITION OF OPERANT BEHAVIOR \ ~~ Operants, on the other hand, have no eliciting stimuli. There is no stimulus, for example, which will elicit the word operant from all (\, children or a lever-press from all rats. The creation of new operants and the selective enhancement of the frequency of existing operants are brought about not by any eliciting stimuli which precede the behavior but by the reinforcing stimuli which follow the behavior. Reinforcers, as we have seen in Chapter 1, are simply those stimuli that result in an increase in the frequency of the behavior which they follow.

Before we turn to the -method;'- and procedU:re~ for selectively increasing and decreasing the probability of occurrence of existing operant behavior and for creating new operant behavior, we will take a brief look at these questions in the case of respondents. ACQUISITION OF RESPONDENT BEHAVIOR Acquisition in the case of respondents is a simple matter, because both the initial occurrence of respondents and their rate of pccurrence depend almost completely on the presentation of the ~liciting stimuli.

2. As long as responses are reinforced in the presence of the red key, extinction does not reduce the rate of responding in the presence of the other two stimuli to zero. Even after extinction has been continued for some time, there is always some residual responding in the presence of the orange and yellow keys, although reliably less responding in the presence of the yellow key. This unreinforced responding is a result of generalization from the reinforced responding in the presence of red. Thus, as the graph shows, when responding in the presence of red is also extinguished, there is a further decrease in the rate of responding in the presence of both the orange and yellow keys.

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