Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. M. Kay Malott

Second Advisor

Dr. John L. Michael

Third Advisor

Dr. David O. Lyon

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Arthur G. Snapper


Response rate has been criticized as an adequate measure of response strength on the basis that rate reflects the adventitious reinforcement of interresponse times. Nevin (1974, 1979) proposed relative resistance to change as an alternative measure. Nevin (1974) employed multiple-pacing schedules in which either high- or low-rate requirements were placed in tandem with either VI 1 min or VI 3 min schedules of reinforcement. The results suggested that low-rate responding may be more resistant to change when schedules are equated for reinforcement frequency. Fath and Malott (1979) replicated Nevin's experiment, but found no evidence that contingencies on response rate affect relative resistance to change. That Nevin observed differences in response strength under similar conditions in his study, may be due to differences in the programming of high- and low-response rate contingencies. In the present study, refinements of the procedure used by Nevin (1974) and Fath and Malott (1979) were used, and a parametric investigation of the effects of response-independent food on behavior maintained by a multiple-pacing schedule was conducted. The results support the findings of Fath and Malott (1979), that response rate contingencies do not affect relative resistance to change. Both response rates and latencies to respond varied systematically with increases in the magnitude of response-independent food presentations. Response rates decreased, while latencies increased. These results are consistent with Nevin's suggestion that relative resistance to change is a function of reinforcement frequency, but not with the notion that response rate contingencies affect response strength. The relation between Nevin's concept of response strength and previous experimental findings is discussed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access