In discrete trials, pigeons were presented with two alternatives: to wait for a larger reinforcer, or to respond and obtain a smaller reinforcer immediately. The choice of the former was defined as self-control, and the choice of the latter as impulsiveness. The stimulus that set the opportunity for an impulsive choice was presented after a set interval from the onset of the stimulus that signaled the waiting period. That interval increased or decreased from session to session so that the opportunity for an impulsive choice became available either more removed from or closer in time to the presentation of the larger reinforcer. In three separate conditions, the larger reinforcer was delivered according to either a fixed interval (FI) schedule, a fixed time (FT) schedule, or a differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) schedule. The results showed that impulsive choices increased as the opportunity for such a choice was more distant in time from presentation of the larger reinforcer. Although the schedule of the larger reinforcer affected the rate of response in the waiting period, the responses themselves had no effect on choice unless the responses postponed presentation of the larger reinforcer.
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