Optimization theory fails to predict performance of pigeons in a two-response situation

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Science  13 Nov 1981:
Vol. 214, Issue 4522, pp. 823-825
DOI: 10.1126/science.7292017


Optimization theory states that organisms behave in a way that maximizes reinforcement or "value." In a two-response situation, pigeons' response proportions approximately equaled reinforcement proportions, even when this behavior pattern substantially decreased the rate of reinforcement. Optimization or reinforcement maximization was not supported as the basic mechanism underlying choice behavior.