Differential Effects of Reinforcement in Shelter Versus Pet Dogs
When giving a reinforcer it is important to understand the effects of the "delivery system" for that reinforcer. For example, dogs with little experience with human interaction may react differently to a human delivered reinforcer than dogs more experienced with human interaction. This effect can be predicted by the Disequilibrium Model (Timberlake & Farmer-Dougan, 1991), which states that the degree to which the ratio of instrumental (I) to contingent (C) responding is disrupted from a baseline bliss point (Oi/Oc) results in predictable reinforcement effects. The present study used this model to measure baseline approaches to humans versus a mechanical feeder for two groups of dogs. Using baseline approach rates, the model accurately predicted differences in reinforcer efficacy of human-delivered reinforcers between dogs who were experienced with versus those with little experience interacting with humans. The data support the predictions of the disequilibrium model and demonstrate the importance of assessing baseline rates of both the contingent and operant response to determine reinforcer efficacy.
Gavin, Jennifer and Berenbaum, Antonia, "Differential Effects of Reinforcement in Shelter Versus Pet Dogs" (2018). University Research Symposium. 61.