Motivation pp 427-441 | Cite as

An Ecological Perspective of Reinforcement and Motivation

  • George H. Collier
  • Carolyn K. Rovee-Collier


A central theme in Western culture is the assumption that behavior is motivated by need and shaped by reward. This theme is reflected in modern theories of learning and motivation in such concepts as deprivation, incentive, and reinforcement and is expressed in one or another of the many versions of the Law of Effect (for reviews, see Bolles, 1975; Meeh, 1950; Postman, 1947). Moreover, this theme is either implicit or explicit in almost every current study of learning and motivation. Several classic relations between deprivation, reinforcement, incentive value, and penormance have encouraged proponents of the Law of Effect. Rate of responding for a nutritive substance by a deprived animal is a linear, increasing function of log percent body weight loss (Collier, 1969; Collier and Levitsky, 1967) as well as of both log concentration (Collier, 1964) and log volume (Collier and Willis, 1961) of the nutrient used as the reinforcer (see Figures 1 and 2). Precise, reproducible functions such as these have provided the data base for most theories of reinforcement.


Prey Item Body Weight Loss Search Cost Ecological Perspective Laboratory Simulation 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • George H. Collier
    • 1
  • Carolyn K. Rovee-Collier
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyRutgers University New BrunswickUSA

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