Secondary Reinforcement in Rats as a Function of Information Value and Reliability of the Stimulus
Secondary reinforcement has been of major importance to behavior theory. In this chapter, the author presents two hypothesis in the experiments with rates. The first hypothesis is that in a situation in which there is more than one stimulus predicting primary reinforcement, for example, food, the more informative stimulus will be the more effective secondary reinforcer. Further it is asserted that a necessary condition for establishing any stimulus as a secondary reinforcer is that the stimulus provide information about the occurrence of primary reinforcement; a redundant predictor of primary reinforcement should not acquire secondary reinforcement strength. The second hypothesis is that in a situation in which a predictor of primary reinforcement exists which is both reliable and informative, this predictor should become a more effective secondary reinforcer than an unreliable predictor. In any prolonged test for secondary reinforcement, this increased resistance to extinction should show up as a greater total secondary-reinforcing effect.