Reinforced behavioral variability in humans
Bizo, L & Doolan, K 2013, 'Reinforced behavioral variability in humans', The Psychological Record, vol. 63, no. 4, pp. 725-734.
This study aimed to assess the role of reinforced behavioral variability in the learning of a 6-digit target sequence (211212) with 3 groups of human participants (n = 39). For the first group (Control), only the target sequence was reinforced. For the second group (Any), the target sequence was reinforced, and any sequence other than the target sequence could be reinforced on a variable interval 60-s schedule. For the third group (Variable), the target sequence was reinforced, and any sequence other than the target sequence could be reinforced on a variable interval 60-s schedule, if it met a variability criterion. The Control group produced the target sequence significantly more often than the Variable group by the end of the experimental sessions. These findings contradict previous studies with rats that have shown that reinforcement of behavioral variability facilitates the learning of difficult response sequences but are consistent with results from previous studies with humans. Potential reasons for this disparity are discussed.