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Patterns of Responding on Schedules of Reinforcement

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The Cumulative Record

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Key measure of behavior: rate of responding

Cumulative Responses

This is the number of responses a subject makes in a period of time, like 1 minute.

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A cumulative record shows total (cumulative) responses since the start of the session.

Cumulative Responses

By looking at the slope of the line on a cumulative record, you can instantly estimate the rate of responding.

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The steeper the slope, the higher the rate of responding.

Cumulative Responses

A steep slope means the subject added a lot of responses to the total during that period of time:

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A

Increase

Cumulative Responses

B

Line A adds more responses to the total than does Line B.

Increase

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A straight diagonal line means a constant rate of responding.

Increase

Cumulative Responses

The number of responses added to the total is always the same from minute to minute.

Increase

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Negative Acceleration: Response Rate Decreases Over Time

Cumulative Responses

A curved line means that the rate of responding is changing.

This is because the slopes are changing, and slope = response rate.

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Positive Acceleration: Response Rate Increases Over Time

Cumulative Responses

Here, the slopes get steeper from minute to minute, so the response rate is increasing.

Time

The Cumulative Record

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Cumulative Responses

Time