Sensory superstition on multiple interval schedules.
Pigeons were exposed to multiple schedules in which an irregular repeating sequence of five stimulus components was correlated with the same reinforcement schedule throughout. Stable, idiosyncratic, response-rate differences developed across components. Components were rank-ordered by response rate; an approximately linear relation was found between rank order and the deviation of mean response rate from the overall mean rate. Nonzero slopes of this line were found for multiple fixed-interval and variable-time schedules and for multiple variable-interval schedules both when number of reinforcements was the same in all components and when it varied. The steepest function slopes were found in the variable schedules with relatively long interfood intervals and relatively short component durations. When just one stimulus was correlated with all components of a multiple variable-interval schedule, the slope of the line was close to zero. The results suggest that food-rate differences may be induced initially by different reactions to the stimuli and subsequently maintained by food.
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