Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Alan D. Poling

Second Advisor

Dr. Cynthia Pietras

Third Advisor

Dr. Ron Van Houten


Motivation, appetite, stimulus-reinforcer, operant, Pavlovian-instrumental

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The presentation of stimuli that have been paired with reinforcers may function as a motivating operation in that the efficacy of the reinforcers appears to increase and the class of responses that have been historically followed by those reinforcers increases in strength. This phenomenon has important implications for a number of behavioral concerns including drug addiction and eating disorders. A review of the existing literature examining this phenomenon presented herein suggests that the phenomenon is reliable and robust but that it is reinforcer-specific. In the animal study that is subsequently described, rats show a higher proportion of responding on average in the presence of the reinforcer-paired stimulus despite presession feeding. Although the findings are not statistically significant, data from individual subjects are analyzed for indications of the mechanisms responsible for the effect. An additional brief review analyzing the effects of reinforcer-paired stimuli on consummately behavior is presented and, given that the presentation of these stimuli also appears to increase consumption of the reinforcing stimulus, it is concluded that it may be fruitful to conceptualize this phenomenon as a conditioned motivating operation.

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Psychology Commons