Choice, the simple allocation of responses amongst alternatives, has been extensively studied in the past. Most often, choice has been studied on concurrent variable interval schedules. A variety of quantitative models, including matching, behavioral economics, and momentary maximizing, have had varying degrees of success in accounting for choice behavior. The present study examined predictions of two more recent theories, behavior systems theory and delay reduction theory. Rats were deprived of both food and water and were exposed to a "cross-motivational" choice, in which one alternative produced food, the other water. Periodically, the animal was given the opportunity to change its initial choice. That is, if it had chosen food, it was given the opportunity to immediately obtain water. According to the delay reduction theory, the rat should choose the more immediate reinforcer, even if this involves changing its initial choice. According to the behavior systems theory, the rat will be "locked in" to a particular choice alternative once the initial choice is made. Results showed an average overall switching from initial choice to immediate reinforcement 40.89% of the time. A further breakdown revealed that when the initial choice was food, there was switching 27.4% on the average. When the initial choice was water, the rats switched 92 % of the time. These results supported neither the delay reduction nor the behavior systems theories completely.
Duttlinger '92, Jorie E., "Cross-Motivational Choice: A Comparison of Delay Reduction and Behavioral Systems Theories" (1992). Honors Projects. Paper 91.