[From Rick Marken (950805.1800)]
Here are the results of an operant conditioning study that I just
found in the Journal of Jewish-Catholic Interaction (Tumarkin and
Westerschulte, 1995). The study was conducted on two tracking
deprived rats. S1 was a Rattus Yidishkite and S2 was a Rattus
Germanicus Catholicus. The researchers point out that these species
are particularly well suited for this kind of study; Rattus Yidishkite is
known for its love of Talmudic tracking tasks and, of course, Rattus
Germanicus Catholicus just follows orders. (Actually, S2 was 1/2 Yidishkite
and 1/2 Germanicus Catholicus; he followed orders but felt guilty about
Both rats did a tracking task in which they were to keep a cursor aligned
with a stationary target by pressing the button on the mouse (not related
to either subject). S1 (the lover of tracking tasks) didn't have to be
told to do this; as soon as this rat saw the cursor he knew that he had to
get it under the target. S2 did this tracking task as soon as he was
ordered to "keep the cursor under the target" (he's such a mensch, that S2).
If the subjects had done nothing the target would have drifted away
from the target, to the left, at a constant rate; by pressing the mouse
button a sufficient number of times the subject could move the cursor
to the right. Each movement of the mouse to the right is a reinforcement.
The number of presses required to produce a reinforcement was varied in
the experiment; this number is called the "ratio". Three ratios were used
in the experiment: 2,5 and 10. When the ratio was 2 the rat had to press
twice to get a reinforcement; when the ratio was 5 the rat had to press
five times to get a reinforcement, etc.
The same ratio was in effect throughout an experimental run which
lasted 30 seconds (how long do you think you can keep these rats
doing this stuff?). The rats were tested under "normal" conditions
in which the cursor started near the target and reinforcements were
large enough to allow the rat to keep the cursor near the target
at all ratio requirements. The rats were also tested under "deprived"
conditions in which the cursor started many pixels to the left of
the target and reinforcements were too small to allow the rat to
move the cursor to the target.
The results (in terms of responses/sec and reinforcements/sec) are
presented for each ratio in each condition for the two subjects:
Resp/ Reinf/ Resp/ Reinf/
Ratio sec sec sec sec
2 S1 ND 1.92 .96 6.1 3.03
D 1.4 1.06 5.5 4.1
S2 ND 1.92 .96 5.6 2.8
ND 1.32 1.08 5.6 4.3
5 S1 ND 4.62 .96 8.47 1.69
D 3.29 .96 9.1 2.68
S2 ND 4.74 .96 9.2 1.8
D 3.42 .96 8.6 2.6
10 S1 ND 8.89 .90 9.8 .96
D 6.56 1.0 10.0 1.39
S2 ND 8.52 .78 10.1 .99
D 7.26 .90 10.3 1.43
A nice feature of this experiment (a feature rarely seen in JEAB but,
apparently, more common in JJCI) was that the subjects were tested
with and without disturbances.
The rows labelled ND are data collected when there was no disturbance
present. The rows labelled D are data collected when there was
a disturbance present. The disturbance was a reinforcement that
was added on a random 1/2 of the trials after a ratio requirement
was completed. This added reinforcement was taken into account in
the calculation of reinforcements/sec. Both reinforcements/sec
and responses/second were calculated by counting the total number
of reinforcements or responses that occurred during a 30 second trial
and dividing by 30. So the total number of reinforcements (including
those randomly added in the D condition) and the total number of
responses in a 30 second session can be obtained by multiplying
the numbers in the table above by 30.
The people who did this research didn't know control theory; they were
just studying the effect of ratio and disturbance on behavior. There
seemed to be an effect of both in both normal and deprived conditions.
Would anyone like to interpret these results from a PCT perspective?