Posted with permission from the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior.


The literature was examined to determine how well the generalized matching law (Baum, 1974) describes multiple-schedule responding. In general, it describes the data well, accounting for a median of 91% of the variance. The median size of the undermatching parameter was 0.46; the median bias parameter was 1.00. The size of the undermatching parameter, and the proportion of the variance accounted for by the equation, varied inversely with the number of schedules conducted, with the number of sessions conducted per schedule, and with the time within a component. The undermatching parameter also varied with the operanda used to produce reinforcers and with the reinforcer used. The undermatching parameter did not vary consistently with component duration or with several other variables. Bias was greater when fewer rather than more schedules were conducted, when two rather than one operanda were used, and when White Carneaux rather than homing pigeons served as subjects. These results imply that the generalized matching law may describe both concurrent and multiple-schedule responding, but that the same variables do not always influence the bias and undermatching parameters in the same way for the two types of schedules.



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