Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Jack L. Michael

Second Advisor

Dr. Alan Poling

Third Advisor

Dr. Alyce M. Dickinson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Leonard J. Beuving


The purpose of the present study was to compare three procedures for examining the degree to which delayed response-dependent presentations of food would result in the acquisition of lever-pressing in rats. Although there is an abundance of research examining the maintenance of behavior with delayed reinforcement, few studies have investigated reinforcement delays in the acquisition of new discrete behaviors. Historically two different procedures have been employed in the study of delayed reinforcement. In a nonresetting delay procedure a response sets up the delivery of a reinforcer to occur after t seconds, and responses that may occur during the delay interval have no program m ed consequences. In a resetting delay procedure, a response program s reinforcer delivery to occur t seconds after the response is emitted, and any response that occurs during the delay interval resets the delay to t seconds, thus preventing any response from being followed by a reinforcer in less time than that of the specified delay. These two procedures and a third in which every response programmed delivery of a reinforcer t seconds after its occurrence (stacked delay) were employed to examine the effects of 4-, 8-, and 16-second delays of food presentation on the acquisition of lever-pressing. In addition, one group was exposed to a 32- second resetting delay. Two control groups were studied, one that received immediate reinforcement and one that received no reinforcement (extinction). With the exception of the extinction group, responding was established with every procedure at every delay value. In the stacked and resetting delay procedures asymptotic responding occurred more rapidly with shorter delays, although this relationship was reversed in the nonresetting delay condition. Although acquisition was established with the resetting delays, response rates were generally not as high as with the other two procedures.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Psychology Commons