Mediators of the effects of magnitude of reinforcement

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The characteristics of mediational mechanisms based upon magnitude of reinforcement were investigated using rats. In two experiments, two-choice discriminations were trained in which selections of one lever in one external stimulus and a second lever in another external stimulus were reinforced with food. In the first experiment, it was found that the discrimination was acquired more rapidly when one choice was reinforced with a large number of food pellets and the other with a smaller number of pellets than when other configurations of reinforcement magnitude were provided. In the second experiment, reversal of a two-choice discrimination was found to be facilitated by prior exposure of the animals to the reversed relationships between the external stimuli and magnitudes of reinforcement. These results were consistent with predictions from a stimulus or associative view of anticipatory processes based upon magnitude of reinforcement.