The Effects of Differential Autoshaping and Autoshaping on Key Pressing Antecedents in Retarded Individuals
Hight, Gregory N.
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The problem. To investigate the effects of a differential autoshaping procedure as a means by which errorless visual discrimination might be acquired by retarded adults with the key press as the dependent variable. Procedure. The four participants were exposed to either a differential autoshaping procedure or an autoshaping procedure in which: (1) two orthogonal stimuli were sequentially projected onto a translucent Plexiglas key with one of the stimuli always paired with food and one of the stimuli never paired with food (differential autoshaping); or (2) one stimulus was repeatedly projected and always paired with food (autoshaping). Various experimental conditions and modifications of the standard autoshaping procedures were introduced to maximize the probability of autoshaped acquisition and to identify the nature of the operating contingencies. Findings. The differential autoshaping and autoshaping procedures did not generate key pressing; it was therefore impossible to assess the extent to which differential autoshaping served as an errorless procedure for differential key pressing. The antecedents of key pressing were sensitive to an adventitious response-reinforcer relation in one participant, while these behaviors were not affected by either stimulus-reinforcer or response-reinforcer relations in the other three participants. Conolusions. Key pressing, differential or non-differential, did not obtain as a function of a stimulus-reinforcer relation because of possible histories of punishment contingent upon explorative behavior, insufficiently intrusive stimuli, and differential stimulus intensities. The adventitious behavior developed by one of the participants points up a deficiency that exists in the literature's clarification of the relative control exerted by response-reinforcer and stimulus-reinforcer relations in the autoshaping paradigm. Reconmendations. Future research should clarify the relative control exerted by response-reinforcer and stimulus-reinforcer relations in the behavior of infra-human species and identify the relevant controlling parameters of autoshaping in non-retarded human subjects.