Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning

2012 Edition
| Editors: Norbert M. Seel


  • Michael DavisonEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1428-6_484



Generically, matching is a set of quantitative theories concerned with choosing between alternatives, where choosing is defined as allocating behavior (responses or time spent responding). The original theory, proposed by Herrnstein (1970), was strict-matching theory. This theory suggested that animals and humans allocate behavior or time to available alternatives simply in proportion to the payoff (reinforcers) that they obtain from the alternatives. With some additional assumptions, Herrnstein proposed the Law of Simple Action (the quantitative law of effect, or Herrnstein’s hyperbola) to describe the rate of responding produced by varying reinforcer frequencies for a single response. However, strict-matching theory failed to describe all choice data accurately, and was replaced by generalized matching by Baum (1974) and Staddon (1968)....

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  1. Baum, W. M. (1974). On two types of deviation from the matching law: Bias and undermatching. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 22, 231–242.Google Scholar
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand