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Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Behavioural Processes
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/behavproc

Q1

The role of induction in operant schedule performance

Q2

William M. Baum a,b,

Q3

University of California, Davis, USA


University of New Hampshire, USA

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a r t i c l e

i n f o

a b s t r a c t

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Article history:
Available online xxx

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Keywords:
Competition
Induction
Matching law
Reinforcement
Variable-interval schedule
Variable-ratio schedule

Baum and Davison (2014b) showed that Baums (2012) recasting of reinforcement as induction may be
quantied by assuming that induction follows a power function of reinforcer rate. This power-function
induction is readily integrated with theory based on the matching law. Herrnstein (1970) originally
assumed background activities (BO ) and their associated reinforcers ro to be constant, but ro should
vary with BO . Further, power-function induction implies that BO should vary with reinforcer rate. Baum
(1993) reported performance on a wide range of variable-ratio (VR) and variable-interval (VI) schedules.
Pigeons VR peck rate followed an inverted U-shaped relation, but VI peck rate separated into three
ranges of food rate: low-to-moderate, moderate-to-high, and extremely high. As food rate increases, the
concave downward relation in the low range reaches an inection point and gives way to a concave
upward relation in the higher range. At the extremes of food rate, VI peck rate decreases. A model based
on competition between induced pecking and BO accounted for VI peck rate in the moderate to extreme
range of food rates. Further research will account for all three ranges, either by integrating power-function
induction with matching theory or with a model based on competition between induced activities.
2015 Published by Elsevier B.V.

A previous paper (Baum, 2012) recasts the various processes of


reinforcement and punishment, stimulus control, classical conditioning, adjunctive behavior, and instinctive behavior as just one
process, induction, as dened by Segal (1972). A subsequent paper
(Baum and Davison, 2014b) began developing a quantitative model
of induction that accounts for operant performance on variableinterval (VI) schedules and concurrent VI VI schedules. The present
paper takes a further step toward quantifying induction and integrating it with the matching law (Herrnstein, 1961).
Herrnstein (1961) originally presented the matching law as a
relation between two behavioral alternatives in the form:
B1
r1
=
B1 + B2
r1 + r2

Correspondence address: 611 Mason #504, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA.


Tel.: +1 415 345 0050.
E-mail address: wbaum@sbcglobal.net

B=

Kr
r + rO

(3)

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(1)

where, B1 and B2 are response rates or times spent at Alternatives


1 and 2, and r1 and r2 are reinforcer rates at Alternatives 1 and 2.
Herrnstein (1970) subsequently proposed generalizing the
matching law to any number of alternatives n in the form:
Bi
r
= i
B
r

where, Bi represents response rate or time spent at any one of n


alternatives, B represents the total of responding or time spent
at the n alternatives, ri represents reinforcer rate at any of the n
alternatives, and r represents the total or the n reinforcer rates.
Using Eq. (2), Herrnstein (1970) derived an equation for
responding at just one recorded alternative:

(2)

where, K replaces B on the assumption that other, unmeasured,


activities occur and that, with BO representing those other activities, and r = r + ro , with ro representing reinforcers due to BO .
Herrnstein (1970) tted Eq. (3) to several data sets from Catania
and Reynolds (1968). Subsequently de Villiers (1977) tted it to
additional data sets, and it has generally proven successful in
describing performance across variable-interval (VI) schedules.
One feature of the ts to Eq. (3) seems incorrect, however: ro is
assumed to be constant as r varies. Baum (1981) and Davison (1993,
2004) pointed out that this assumed constancy is inconsistent with
our general understanding of reinforcement contingencies, because
BO must vary as B varies, and ro should vary with BO . By denition,
a contingency creates a dependence of reinforcer rate on response

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2015.01.006
0376-6357/ 2015 Published by Elsevier B.V.

Please cite this article in press as: Baum, W.M., The role of induction in operant schedule performance. Behav. Process. (2015),
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2015.01.006

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rate; such a dependence is called a feedback function. For example,


the feedback function for a variable-ratio (VR) schedule is given by:
B
r=
V

(4)

where, V is the average number of responses required per reinforcer, and the feedback function for a VI schedule is approximately:
1
r=
t + Ba

(5)

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where, t is the average interval and a is a constant that represents


a tendency to bursts at low reinforcer rates (Baum, 1992). Thus, a
feedback function should exist between ro and BO :

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ro = f (BO )

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(6)

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At least two questions arise: (1) what is BO ? and (2) what is the
feedback function f relating ro to BO ? Baum (1981) and Davison
(1993) suggested that the function should have characteristics of a
ratio schedule (Eq. (4))that is,

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rO =

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BO
V

(7)

The basis for this conjecture was that BO activities ought to


produce ro directly, with no time-limiting factor such as would
characterize an interval schedule (Eq. (5)).
Davison (2004) found evidence that BO is not one activity but a
conglomerate, but Baum and Davison (2014b) found that treating
BO as one activity allowed calculating variation in ro and discovering
that Eq. (7) is the feedback function relating ro to BO , at least at high
reinforcer (food) rates.
An earlier paper (Baum, 2012), relying on the process of induction outlined by Segal (1972), suggested that phylogenetically
important events induce activities denoted adjunctive or interim
or terminal (Staddon, 1977). Following this reasoning, BO would be
induced by a reinforcer such as food, and BO would depend on the

food rate r. Baum and Davison (2014b) found that BO varied with r
and, through this variation and Eq. (7), that ro varied with r. Thus,
at least part of the other activities represented in Eq. (6) as BO and
implicit in Herrnsteins hyperbola (Eq. (3)) is induced by the food
(r). To be accurate, Baum and Davison (2014b) proposed that Eq. (3)
should be modied to include activities unrelated to the food rate
rwhat Staddon (1977) called facultative activities. They represented these activities as BN and the reinforcers associated with BN
as rN :
B=

Kr
r + r O + rN

(8)

with the understanding that K equals B + BO + BN and that some


function g relates BO to r:
BO = g(r)

(9)

Eq. (9) results in ro depending on r indirectly:


rO =

g(r)
V

BO = co r

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(10)

To t data from two large data sets (Baum and Davison, 2014a;
Soto, McDowell, & Dallery, 2005), Baum and Davison (2014b)
assumed that induction follows a power function:
so

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(11)

where, the exponent so may be thought of as the sensitivity of BO


to r, and the coefcient co accounts for reconciling of units.
Baum (1993)
A data set that allows testing these proposals further for both
VI and VR schedules was gathered in an experiment reported in
1993. The procedure was a two-component multiple schedule in
which a VR component alternated with a VI component separated
by substantial time-outs in between. The intervals generated in the
VR component were played back in the VI component to roughly

Fig. 1. Pecks per minute versus food per minute from Baum (1993). Data are from a multiple VR VI schedule in which the VI component was yoked to the VR component.

Please cite this article in press as: Baum, W.M., The role of induction in operant schedule performance. Behav. Process. (2015),
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equate the intervals and food rates in the two. The VR schedule
varied across conditions, and each condition continued in daily sessions until both performances appeared stable, whereupon a new
condition began. The VR was varied over as large a range as possible,
from a large VR that produced a moderate food rate just sufcient
to maintain responding to FR 1, the endpoint of ratio schedules.
Since ratio schedules exhibit ratio strain when they are relatively
large, no low food rates were possible, but food rate could increase
up to the extreme at the high end with FR 1.
Fig. 1 shows peck rate as a function of food rate for the four
pigeons in the experiment. Most conditions were presented twice,
and Fig. 1 shows the average peck rate across presentations. Performance on the VR schedules was simply a bitonic or upside-down
U-shape, and peck rates were generally higher for the VR than
the yoked VI. Performance on the VI schedules was more complex. Most notably, whereas the VR curve was concave downwards,
the VI curve was concave upwards in the mid-range of food rates,
which differed from pigeon to pigeon. Indeed, at least three of the
pigeons curves show a clear inection point: at about 11 fpm for
B258; at about 5 fpm for B261 and B122; although less pronounced,
at about 6 fpm for B348. These inection points suggest that peck
rate was relatively at in the low range, but because food rates
lower than about 0.4 per minute, equivalent to a VI 150s, could
not be maintainedexcept for B261, which maintained pecking at
0.13 fpm, equivalent to a VI 460s. Previous research supports the
existence of an inection point, because a negatively accelerated
pattern of responding in the lower range of food rates is well documented (e.g., Catania & Reynolds, 1968; de Villiers, 1977), and
the shift from negative acceleration in the lower range to positive
acceleration in the higher range requires an inection point. All four
pigeons peck rates decreased at the highest food rates.
Since the VI performances included a relatively at peck rate
in the low range of food rates, an inection point followed by an
up-turn in peck rate, and a down-turn at the highest food rates, the

VI curves might be composed of three regions: low to moderate


food rates, moderate to high food rates, and high to extreme food
rates. Fig. 2 illustrates this possibility. In the lower, atter range, the
broken line in each graph represents the hyperbola in Eq. (3) tted
to the peck rates. Viewed this way, one sees clearly the up-turn in
the mid-range of food rates and the down-turn at the extreme of
food rate. Any model of these peck rates should account for both
the up-turn and the down-turn.
1. An induction model

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I modeled these data as follows. Paralleling the reasoning of Q4


Baum and Davison (2014b), I made the following assumptions:
BO varies with r, because BO is induced by food according to Eq.
(11), as assumed by Baum and Davison (2014b) with some empirical support (Staddon, 1977);
Pecking also is induced by food, according to:
B = cr s

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(12)

When B and BO compete, BO replaces B:


If cr s + co r so > K, then B = K BO ; that is, the activities exist in
a hierarchy, such that B and BO replace BN , and BO replaces B
(BN <B < BO ). Although Baum and Davison (2014b) assumed B to
replace BO in a similar model, the present data require that BO
replace B, as was true of rats lever pressing (Soto et al., 2005).
Replacement of B by BO corresponds to what Breland and Breland
(1961) called instinctive drift. Whether it should be considered
maladaptive, as misbehavior suggests, depends on the function
of BO activities in the natural environment. For example, feeding
competes with vigilance when any predation risk exists (see Lima
and Dill, 1990 for a review).
A theoretical benet of assuming that induction follows a power
function is that the generalized matching law (Baum, 1974, 1979;
Davison and McCarthy, 1988) is preserved:

Fig. 2. Pecks per minute versus food per minute in the VI component of Baum (1993). The broken line represents the t of Herrnsteins hyperbola (Eq. (3)) to the low range
of food rates. The inection point between low food rates and high food rates may be seen at the intersection of the broken curve with the solid line.

Please cite this article in press as: Baum, W.M., The role of induction in operant schedule performance. Behav. Process. (2015),
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2015.01.006

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Fig. 3. Pecks per minute versus food per minute in the VI component of Baum (1993) tted with the induction model assuming power-function induction (Eqs. (11) and
(12)).

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Bi
Bj

ci r si
s
cj r j

, for all i =
/ j of n operant activities. The power function

has some empirical support too (Staddon, 1977).


The model was tted to the peck rates using Solver in Microsoft
Excel, varying c, s, co , and so , after setting K to a rate slightly above
the maximum peck rate and placing a minimum of 0.00001 on co .
Fig. 3 shows the results of tting to the VI peck rates. The peck rates
are tted well, with one awfor all four pigeons, the inection
point demarcated in Fig. 2 falls below the curve. Because the data
set includes no extremely low food rates, the model takes no special
account of peck rates in that range. Replacing the hyperbola (Eq. (3);
broken lines in Fig. 2) would require food rates in the lower range
and additional assumptions about B, BO , and BN in that range.
Fig. 4 shows the results of tting the same model, with the same
assumptions, to the VR peck rates. These ts are close and show no
systematic deviation from the data. As might be expected from the
simple bitonic shape, these peck rates were relatively easy to t
with Excel Solver, varying c, s, co , so , and K. They raise no problem
about low food or peck rates.
An immediate question to ask is whether the models parameters that best tted the peck rates remained the same for the VI
rates and the VR rates. Fig. 5 makes the comparison. It shows each
VI parameter plotted against the corresponding VR parameter for
each pigeon. The estimates of K (diamonds) were about the same,
lying on the major diagonal (equality). The estimates of c and s
(squares and triangles) also were about the same, indicating that
the power function for the inducing of pecking was about the same
for VI and VR. Notable differences occurred for co and so , however,
indicating that the power function for the inducing of BO differed
for the VI and VR. In tting the model, the estimates of co , in particular, tended to be extremely small, and necessitated the lower limit
of 0.00001 for co . All four estimates of co were far lower for the VI
than the VR. In contrast, all four estimates of so were higher for the
VI than for the VR. The reason why induction of BO would differ for

VI and VR schedules remains to be discovered, but probably stems


from the more abrupt down-turn in the VI peck rates at the higher
food rates. The combination of a small coefcient co with a large
exponent so caused BO to be tiny at lower food rates but to ramp
up quickly at higher food rates, thus allowing the model to t that
sharp downturn in VI peck rates. The large coefcient c paired with
an exponent s less than 1.0 modelled a more gradual increase in
peck rate, starting at moderately high levels at moderate food rates
to begin with.
To try to model these peck rates with optimality or matching
theory, one needs to make additional assumptions. Although the
present model requires no assumption about ro , optimality and
matching require a feedback function for ro , possibly Eq. (7), which
has some empirical support (Baum and Davison, 2014b). One must
also assume a feedback function for rN , which would probably differ
from direct proportionality, because BN represents the activities of
the organism when it has nothing better to dothat is, background
activity as originally conceived (Herrnstein, 1970). A possibility
suggested by Baum and Davison (2014b) is:
rN =

1
1
VN

A
BN

(13)

which resembles a VI feedback function with A accounting for


bursts in BN and VN the asymptote as BN becomes large.
With these assumed feedback functions, the VR peck rates were
readily tted by both optimality (maximizing r + ro + rN ) and matching (Eq. (8)). Neither optimality nor matching was able to capture
the up-turn in VI peck rates in the mid-range of food rates. Fig. 6
compares the results of applying Eq. (8) (matching) with the results
of applying the present model to the peck rates averaged across
pigeons (means; medians were almost identical to the means).
Because of the large number of parameters, the curves were tted by eye, holding most parameters constant and using Microsoft

Please cite this article in press as: Baum, W.M., The role of induction in operant schedule performance. Behav. Process. (2015),
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2015.01.006

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Fig. 4. Pecks per minute versus food per minute in the VR component of Baum (1993) tted with the induction model assuming power-function induction (Eqs. (11) and
(12)).

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Excels Solver to adjust one or two at a time. The top right graph
shows the t of the induction model to the VR peck rates; it
resembles those in Fig. 4. The top left graph shows the induction
model tted to the mean VI peck rates. The t resembles those in
Fig. 3 in that it is close but leaves the inection point below the
curve. The lower right graph shows the results of applying Eq. (8)
(matching) to the VR peck rates. The t is just as good as to the
induction model. The lower left graph shows the results of applying Eq. (8) to the VI peck rates. It illustrates the failure of Eq. (8)
to account for the mid-range up-turn; it is only able to produce
a bitonic function. Neither matching (Eq. (8)) nor optimality (not
shown) was able to account for the up-turn. Killeen (1994) mathematical principles of reinforcement, with an equation similar to
Eq. (3), likewise can account for the down-turn at high food rates,
but not the up-turn in the mid-range.

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2. Further development

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As Fig. 2 indicates, the region of low-to-moderate food rates


missing from the VI peck rates also must be included in a full
account of VI performance. That range of food rates has often
been described by the hyperbola in Eq. (3) (Herrnstein, 1970). VI
peck rates in that range conform to a concave-downward pattern, only the tail end of which is shown in Fig. 2. Although the
present induction model ts the VI peck rates well (Fig. 3), its
failure to accommodate the inection point marking the transition from the concave-downward pattern to the concave-upward
pattern requires further development.
The up-turn in the mid-range of food rates may result from a
shift in topography of key pecking as the rich VI schedules come
more and more to resemble ratio schedules. The resemblance may
be understood as resulting from the change in shape of the VI
feedback function. Though negatively accelerated, the VI feedback

function becomes closer and closer to linear as the asymptotic


food rate increases. The changed topography of pecking would
resemble more and more the topography characteristic of pecking
on VR schedules reported by Palya (1992) as icking at the
key, called swiping at the key by Baum and Davison (2014b),
that results in multiple operations of the key for a single backand-forth movement of the pigeons head. Thus, the up-turn in
peck rates might represent a mix of two topographiessay, multioperation (icking or swiping) and single-operation (pecking), with

Fig. 5. Comparison of tting parameters for VI peck rates (Fig. 3) with those for VR
peck rates (Fig. 4).

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Fig. 6. Comparison of the induction model with matching theory applied to mean peck rates from Baum (1993). Top: the induction model tted to VI peck rates (left) and
to VR peck rates (right). Bottom: matching theory tted to the VI peck rates (left) and to VR peck rates (right). Matching theory cannot accommodate the concave-upward
range of peck rates.

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multi-operation increasingly replacing single-operation as food


rate increases from moderate to high. This change in topography
might also explain the upturn in peck rates at high food rates
that Baum and Davison (2014b) attributed to pecking B replacing
BO . If so, one might assume that BO always replaces pecking. This
possibility remains to be explored.
For matching theory, the shift in topography would imply two
different activities with two different tempos (Baum and Rachlin,
1969; Gilbert, 1958). The single-operation activity, BS , would have
different units and a different asymptotic rate, KS , from the multioperation activity, BM , which would have the asymptotic rate KM .
Eq. (8) would be replaced by:
BM + uBS
r
=
BM + uBS + BO + BN
r + rO + rN
where, u =

KM
KS

(14)

as a correction for the different units and

KM = BM + uBS + BO + BN

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One way optimality theory could approach the performance


would be to suppose a four-dimensional space with performance
minimizing distance from a bliss point (e.g., Rachlin and Burkhard,
1978; Staddon, 1983).
For the present line of theory based on induction, the solution is
much simpler. We need only assume that BM is induced according
to a power function:

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BM = cM r SM

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(15)

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and that in the hierarchy of activities, BM replaces BS , represented as:

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BN < BS < BM < BO ,

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implying that BO replaces BM at the extreme food rates. Fig. 7


illustrates the way the model would accommodate the three
regions of VI peck rates. The squares show the mean peck rates
across the four pigeons. In the low-to-moderate range of food rate,
BS replaces BN (BN < BS ; lower solid line). In the moderate-to-high
range, BM replaces BS (BS < BM ; broken line). In the extreme rates,
BO replaces BM (BM < BO ; upper solid line).
How would the induction model treat the low-to-moderate
range of food rate that is missing from the present data set? Assuming power-function induction (Eqs. (11) and (12)), we may conclude

Fig. 7. The three ranges of VI peck rates. In the low-to-moderate range of food rates
(solid curve), pecking (BS ) replaces true background activities (BN ), in the moderateto-high range (broken line), icking or swiping the key (BM ) replaces BS , and in
the extremely high range (solid line), other food-induced activities (BO ) replace BM .

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Fig. 8. Comparison of Herrnsteins hyperbola (Eq. (3)) with two induction-based models tted to data from Catania and Reynolds (1968). The Partition model applies a
matching-like relation to all food-induced activities (Eq. (16)). The Difference model assumes simply assumes that other food-induced activities interfere with pecking (Eq.
(17)).

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that, in that range, BS and BO both replace BN , but not independently,


because if they replaced BN independently, the function relating BS
to r would be a power function and would appear in logarithmic
coordinates as a straight line. The relation between B and r in that
range, however, is concave downward in logarithmic coordinates
(Baum, 1981; Baum and Davison, 2014b). Thus, BS and BO must
compete, even as they replace BN , and we require a model of that
competition. At least two possible models of the competition arise.
One approach would follow Baum and Davisons reliance on the
matching relation as expressed in Fig. 3, but with an important
difference: K would be replaced with a variable B that is a power
function of r, as in Eq. (12), but B would represent, not measured
peck rate, but induced activity, which would result in measured
pecking according to:
B=

B, r
r + rO

cr s+1
r + cO r sO

(16)

recalling that ro depends on r (Eqs. (10) and (11); the parameter


V is absorbed into co ). Eq. (16) represents a model in which the total
activity induced B is partitioned between B and BO according to the
proportion of the reinforcer rates r and ro .
A second possible model would assume simply that BO replaces
pecking in the low-to-moderate range as well as the higher ranges

of r. Measured pecking B would equal the difference between


induced pecking B and induced other activities BO :
s

B = cr cO r

sO

(17)

Fig. 8 shows the results of tting Herrnsteins hyperbola (Eq. (3)),


Eq. (16) (Partition), and Eq. (17) (Difference) to the VI peck rates
reported by Catania and Reynolds (1968) and used by Herrnstein
(1970; his Fig. 8) to validate the hyperbola. All three equations t
the peck rates (diamonds) well and about equally well. Eqs. (16) and
(17), though based on different assumptions, are practically indistinguishable. Further research will be required to decide between
them.
3. Conclusions
Extending Segals (1972) concept of induction to operant activities and quantifying it by assuming power-function induction
affords quantitative accounts of operant performance that are
plausible and simple (Baum, 2012; Baum and Davison, 2014b).
Although VR performance conforms to a simple bitonic inverted
U-shape (Figs. 1, 4, and 6), that is relatively easy to account for
with matching, optimality, and induction, VI performance presents
a more complicated picture. VI performance may be divided into

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three ranges of food rate: low-to-moderate, moderate-to-high, and


extremely high (Figs. 1, 2, and 7). In the low-to-moderate range,
peck rates display a concave downward relation to food rate that
has often been tted with the hyperbola in Eq. (3) in the past. An
inection point occurs in the moderate range as the VI peck rates
turn from the concave downward relation to a concave upward
relation in the moderate-to-high range (Figs. 1, 2, and 7). Matching theory and optimality do not accommodate this shift (Fig. 6), at
least not without many more assumptions. Finally, in the extremely
high range, VI peck rate falls as r increases to the maximum (Figs.
1, 2, and 7). A model based on power-function induction tted VI
peck rates from the moderate to the extreme food rates (Figs. 3
and 6), but it failed to pick out the inection point because the
low-to-moderate range of food rate was largely missing from the
data (Baum, 1993). A full account based on induction appears to
be possible, because at least two models of competition between
pecking and other activities are possible, as shown in Fig. 8. Further
research with a still broader range of food rates should allow the
induction model to be applied to the full range of VI peck rates. Further research might also explore the generality of power-function
induction, hierarchical replacement, and topography shifts in other
situations and other species. Although evidence thus far suggests
that the model applies to pigeons pecking and rats lever pressing
(Baum and Davison, 2014b), only more tests with wide ranges of
food rates and other species will tell.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2015.01.006

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