Acquisition with partial and continuous reinforcement in rat magazine approach

Daniel A. Gottlieb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Partial reinforcement, compared with continuous reinforcement, is widely considered detrimental to Pavlovian conditioned responding. However, time-accumulation models predict an invariance in acquisition when learning is assessed as a function of number of reinforcements, not trials, and intertrial interval is held constant. Three experiments examined this prediction in a rat magazine-approach procedure. All experiments showed superior responding with continuous reinforcement. Experiments 1 and 3 used common tests in between- and within-subject designs, respectively. Experiment 2 showed the same pattern in a discrimination. Earlier results are reanalyzed informally and in a meta-analysis. Contrary to previous summaries of the literature, evidence points to superior conditioned responding with continuous reinforcement in a number of procedures. Results are generally consistent with traditional associative models of learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-333
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Classical conditioning
  • Conditioned approach
  • Partial reinforcement
  • Time-accumulation models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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