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

Abstract

Economic theory predicts an inverse relationship between the quantity of a commodity supplied to the marketplace and the equilibrium market price of that commodity. This prediction was tested in three experiments. Pigeons responded on simple variable-interval schedules, and quantity of reinforcement supplied was varied in a different way in each experiment. In Experiment 1, quantity supplied was varied by manipulating reinforcement rate while keeping session length constant. In Experiment 2, quantity supplied was varied by manipulating reinforcement rate while keeping reinforcers per session constant. In Experiment 3, quantity supplied was varied by manipulating reinforcer magnitude while keeping number of reinforcers constant. As predicted by economic theory, the obtained behavioral cost (responses per reinforcer) increased as supply decreased. The results could not be explained by simple artifacts such as satiation and time available to respond. In addition, the function relating response rate to reinforcement rate was bitonic in 7 of 9 animals in Experiments 1 and 2, which supports economic and regulatory theories over more traditional reinforcement theories.

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Psychology

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Psychology Commons

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