Some Parameters of Behavioral Contrast and Allocation of Interim Behavior in Rats

James Dougan, Frances McSweeney, Valeri Farmer

Research output: Journal ArticleArticlepeer-review


Two experiments examined the effects of baseline reinforcement rate and component duration on behavioral contrast and on re-allocation of interim behavior in rats. Positive behavioral contrast occurred during multiple variable-interval 10-second extinction (VI 10 EXT) after a multiple VI 10 VI 10 baseline condition, but not during multiple VI 60 EXT following multiple VI 60 VI 60 baseline. Component duration had no significant effect on contrast. These results differed from those found in studies of pigeons' key pecking. Contrast was accompanied by an increased rate of drinking in the changed component, but drinking in the constant component did not decrease. These results are not consistent with the competition theory of contrast, but are consistent with the predictions based on the matching law. However, no current theory seems to account for all instances of behavioral contrast.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
StatePublished - 1985


  • Behavioral contrast
  • behavioral competition
  • matching theory
  • interim responding
  • multiple schedules
  • bar pressing
  • rats.


  • Psychology

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