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Interference and facilitation produced by noncontingent reinforcement in the appetitive situation

Abstract

The results of experiments on learned helplessness in the appetitive situation have varied from facilitation to debilitating effects produced by exposure to uncontrollable food. The conditions under which the interference effect (debilitation) may occur were examined in the first three experiments, employing the triadic design. Sixteen sets of conditions were examined. The results suggested that the effect occurs when (1) subjects are preexposed to the manipulandum to be used in the test stage, by having it present during pretreatment with uncontrollable food, and (2) the manipulandum employed during pretreatment is absent during the test stage. Furthermore, under the reverse conditions (test manipulandum absent during pretreatment, and pretreatment manipulandum present during testing) and partial reinforcement of the response contingent subjects during pretreatment, the test performance of rats exposed to uncontrollability was facilitated. Experiment 4 confirmed the occurrence of the interference effect under the suggested conditions. Apparently inconsistent results of previous studies may be interpreted in the light of these findings.

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Correspondence to R. F. S. Job.

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This research was partially supported by a University of Sydney Special Project Grant.

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Job, R.F.S. Interference and facilitation produced by noncontingent reinforcement in the appetitive situation. Animal Learning & Behavior 16, 451–460 (1988). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03209386

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Keywords

  • Inescapable Shock
  • Response Contingent
  • Nose Poke
  • Naive Control
  • Masse Control