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Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of Graduate Psychology
Discounting has been observed across a wide range of species, procedures, and reinforcers. One of the main differences in the literature is that studies with humans use money (conditioned reinforcer) as the reinforcer being discounted. This is in contrast to studies with non-human animals where the discounted outcomes are usually directly consumable like food and water (primary reinforcers). At present, there is no non-human animal equivalent to money that has been identified in the discounting literature. To further bridge the remaining gaps in the methodology, a common currency is needed to study conditioned reinforcers in the discounting paradigm. An adjusting-amount procedure was used to examine the discounting of conditioned reinforcers with pigeons. Pigeons made choices of smaller, more immediate amounts of tokens or larger, more delayed amounts of tokens and then exchanged the tokens for food. Pigeons discounted token reinforcers evidenced by the decrease in subjective value as delay increased. Further, tokens were discounted less steeply than real food reinforcers. The results indicate that pigeons can discount food-specific tokens and is an important first step towards developing a generalized token reinforcer for discounting procedures with non-human animals.
Wolf, Matthew, "Discounting in the Pigeon: Food-Specified Conditioned Reinforcers" (2018). Masters Theses. 571.
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