Stock optimizing in choice when a token deposit is the operant

John J. Widholm, Alan Silberberg, Steven R. Hursh, Abdulrazaq A. Imam, Frederick R. Warren-Boulton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Each of 2 monkeys typically earned their daily food ration by depositing tokens in one of two slots. Tokens deposited in one slot dropped into a bin where they were kept (token kept). Deposits to a second slot dropped into a bin where they could be obtained again (token returned). In Experiment 1, a fixed-ratio (FR) 5 schedule that provided two food pellets was associated with each slot. Both monkeys preferred the token-returned slot. In Experiment 2, both subjects chose between unequal FR schedules with the token-returned slot always associated with the leaner schedule. When the FRs were 2 versus 3 and 2 versus 6, preferences were maintained for the token-returned slot; however, when the ratios were 2 versus 12, preference shifted to the token-kept slot. In Expenment 3, both monkeys chose between equal-valued concurrent variable-interval variable-interval schedules. Both monkeys preferred the slot that returned tokens. In Experiment 4, both monkeys chose between FRs that typically differed in size by a factor of 10. Both monkeys preferred the FR schedule that provided more food per trial. These data show that monkeys will choose so as to increase the number of reinforcers earned (stock optimizing) even when this preference reduces the rate of reinforcement (all reinforcers divided by session time).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-263
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavioral economics
  • Choice
  • Food
  • Maximizing
  • Monkeys
  • Token deposit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Psychology(all)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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