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What Is a Fixed-Ratio Schedule?

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Teenage boy sits in front of TV playing video game
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Definition:

In operant conditioning, a fixed-ratio schedule is a schedule of reinforcement where a response is reinforced only after a specified number of responses. This schedule produces a high, steady rate of responding with only a brief pause after the delivery of the reinforcer.

Characteristics

  • Results in high, steady responding until the reinforcement is delivered
  • Best used when learning a new behavior
  • Leads to a brief response pause after reinforcement, but responding quickly resumes

Examples

  • Production Line Work: Workers at a widget factory are paid for every 15 widgets they make. This results in a high production rate and workers tend to take few breaks. It can, however, lead to burnout and lower-quality work

  • Collecting Tokens in a Video Game: In many video games, you have to collection so many tokens, object, or points in order to receive some type of reward.

More Psychology Definitions: The Psychology Dictionary

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