Operative mechanisms of noncontingent reinforcement at varying magnitudes and schedules

David A. Wilder, Wayne W. Fisher, Bonita M. Anders, Jennifer J. Cercone, Pamela L. Neidert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In order to examine the mechanism(s) responsible for response reductions from noncontingent reinforcement (NCR), multiple magnitudes and densities of NCR were superimposed on a variable ratio (VR) 3 schedule of contingent reinforcement for the performance of an arbitrary manual response. Data were collected on responding that occurred during access to the reinforcer separately from responding that occurred between reinforcer access intervals (i.e., when the participant did not have access to the reinforcer). Higher magnitudes and denser schedules of NCR produced greater reductions in responding than did lower magnitudes and leaner schedules. Within-session response patterns suggested that decrements in responding were primarily a function of the increased amount of reinforcer access time associated with higher magnitudes and denser schedules of NCR. That is, it appeared that the participant consumed reinforcers (regardless of whether they were delivered contingently or noncontingently) when they were available and responded for contingent reinforcers primarily when reinforcers were absent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-124
Number of pages8
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Choice
  • Establishing operations
  • Extinction
  • Noncontingent reinforcement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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