Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #60
Experimental Analyses of Jackpotting With Dogs, Pigeons, and Rats
Saturday, May 23, 2009
2:30 PM–3:50 PM
North 225
Area: EAB; Domain: Experimental Analysis
Chair: Toshikazu Kuroda (West Virginia University)
Abstract: The concept of jackpotting was introduced by Pryor (1984) in her animal training book Don’t Shoot the Dog! It has been defined as the rare delivery of a larger than normal food presentation, either dependent on a response (Burch & Bailey, 1999) or independently of responding (Pryor, 1984). It has been suggested that jackpotting has a disproportionally strong reinforcing effect on ongoing behavior: It “results in an animal that is excited and curious about what might be coming next” (Burch & Bailey, 1999, p. 44). But its effects are limited to anecdotes and empirical investigation is invited. In this symposium, four experiments using different species as subjects will be presented: Muir and Rosales-Ruiz measured, before and after introducing jackpotting, frequency of a target response and choice between two target responses using dogs; Kuroda and Lattal measured effects of response-dependent jackpotting under a fixed-interval schedule with pigeons; Roca and Lattal measured response rate and resistance to change using rats, with milk and food pellets as reinforcers; and Jarmolowicz, Kuroda, and Lattal measured effects of response-dependent and of response-independent jackpotting under progressive-ratio schedules using pigeons. Results will be discussed in terms of implications for both experimental and animal training literature.
The Effects of Jackpots on Frequency of Response and Choice
KRISTY MUIR (University of North Texas), Jesus Rosales-Ruiz (University of North Texas)
Abstract: The use of jackpots is a very common practice in applied animal behavior. However, no formal definition has been agreed upon for jackpotting. Definitions are highly variable and many times vague. In general, a jackpot is considered to be an unusually large or valuable reinforcer delivered contingently upon a high quality or difficult approximation. Additionally, there is no agreement about the effects of jackpotting on behavior. The present study examined the effects of using a jackpot on the frequency of response and on response choice in domestic dogs. Dogs were trained to target in a free operant setting. In experiment 1 a single target was used. After a baseline was established with continuous reinforcement a jackpot condition was introduced and response frequency was measured. In experiment 2 dogs were trained to alternate touching two targets. During baseline touching either target was reinforced. After baseline a jackpot was scheduled for one of the targets. Results will be discussed in terms of the implications for applied animal training.
An Experimental Analysis of Jackpotting Under a Fixed-Interval Schedule
TOSHIKAZU KURODA (West Virginia University), Kennon A. Lattal (West Virginia University)
Abstract: Three experimentally naïve White Carneau pigeons serve in the present study. A fixed-interval (FI) 60s schedule is in effect for 60 reinforcers in baselines. Experimental conditions are identical to baselines, but reinforcement (access to mixed grain for 1s, which begins when the pigeon inserts its head in the aperture and breaks the photocell, thereby activating a 1-s timer) is infrequently replaced by jackpotting (7s access): A total of 2 and 4 jackpots are quasi-randomly distributed in the 60 FIs in the Low and High Probability conditions, respectively. Baselines alternate with experimental conditions, constituting a total of 5 conditions for each subject. The delivery of a jackpot disrupted a pause-and-run pattern of an FI schedule. The postreinforcement pause was consistently shorter immediately after than immediately before the delivery of a jackpot. These molecular measures corroborate the effects of jackpotting described in the animal training literature. But no consistent effect was observed in molar measures such as running rates.
Jackpotting: Effects of Reinforcer Variety and Magnitude on Response Rate and Resistance to Change
ALICIA ROCA (National University of Mexico), Kennon A. Lattal (West Virginia University)
Abstract: In animal training reports, jackpots have been described as “surprise” rewards that increase the frequency of occurrence of target responses. As described in these reports, a jackpot is not only an extraordinary large reward, but is also qualitatively novel, is delivered infrequently, and is effective to establish and maintain responding. In the present study we designed an experimental model of jackpotting using rats as subjects. Lever pressing was reinforced with milk according to a fixed-interval schedule in two components of a multiple schedule. The “jackpot” consisted of thirty food pellets that were delivered complementarily to the milk but occurred at random only once during each session. The” jackpot” was always correlated with the same component. The effects of jackpot delivery on response rates and resistance to change in the two components were examined. The results were consistent with the findings of previous studies on resistance to change and varied reinforcement.
Progressive-Ratio Schedules: Effects of Response-Dependent and Response-Independent “Jackpotting”
DAVID P. JARMOLOWICZ (West Virginia University), Toshikazu Kuroda (West Virginia University), Kennon A. Lattal (West Virginia University)
Abstract: “Jackpotting” has generally been described as the delivery of a larger-than-usual reinforcer resulting in an immediate increase in some dimension of responding. On separate occasions, the delivery of this reinforcer has been described as a response-dependent and as a response-independent event (Burch & Bailey, 1999; Pryor, 1984) Although one can examine the effects of response-dependent “jackpotting” on behavior maintained by a range of schedules of reinforcement, the extensive pausing associated with progressive-ratio (PR) schedules provides a unique opportunity to study the effects of response-independent “jackpotting”. The current study examined the effects of both response-dependent and response-independent “jackpotting” on behavior maintained by PR schedules.



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