Stimulus Generalization of a Positive Conditioned Reinforcer

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Science  12 Jul 1963:
Vol. 141, Issue 3576, pp. 172-173
DOI: 10.1126/science.141.3576.172


Stimulus generalization has been observed for discriminative, eliciting, and emotional functions of stimuli. In our study, in order to investigate the generalization of the reinforcing function of stimuli, pigeons were trained in a Skinner box to peck at an unlighted key to obtain aperiodic, brief exposures of light at a wavelength of 550 mµ, the positive conditioned reinforcer, which was immediately followed by food reward. Testing in extinction, we obtained generalization gradients for the number of responses and the time the pigeons expended to produce exposures on the unlighted key of 550 mµ, 530 mµ) 510 mµ, or no light. This finding suggests that stimulus generalization occurs with all functions of stimuli.