Effectiveness of a Jackpot to Decrease Session Time for Discrete Trials in Canines

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Valeri Farmer-Dougan

Mentor Department



Jackpots (a 1-time increase in reinforcer magnitude within a session) are widely used in dog training, yet little empirical data exist to support their use. For example, Muir (2010) found no increase in response rate when a jackpot was used within a single-operant setting, but dogs did increase responding to the jackpot alternative during concurrent schedules. Research in behavioral economics, particularly temporal discounting, has investigated jackpots in humans. This research suggests that jackpots given at different times within the session have differing reinforcer value, suggesting a discounting of the jackpot value across session time. To examine the potential effect of jackpot discounting and frequency, the present study examined the time for dogs to complete a 20-trial simple contingency when the jackpot was presented at the end or middle of the session. Study two examined the rate to completion when the rate of jackpots varied from 5% to 100% of trials. Consumption time was subtracted from total session time to prevent a confound of consumption time with increased jackpots. Results showed no significant increase in completion speed for a single jackpot given at the end versus middle of the trials; increasing the rate of jackpots significantly slowed the dogs' response time.


Gavin-graduate, Berenbaum-undergraduate

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