Behavioral Interactions under Noxious Environments.
Rept. no. 3 (Final) 1 Oct 78-31 Mar 80,
MARYLAND UNIV COLLEGE PARK DEPT OF PSYCHOLOGY
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The several experiments described in this report show the wide range of behavioral effects that a noxious stimulus such as electric shock can have. Response-produced shock can suppress behavior, in which case it functions as a punisher, or it can maintain or enhance responding, in which case it functions as a reinforcer. Significantly shock can function in these different capacities at the same time. Experiments have elaborated still other conditions under which shock presentation maintains one response while, simultaneously, responding is also maintained by termination of that shock and associated stimuli or by postponement of the same shock that is otherwise presented. This is an impressive array of effects for a single effects on behavior. These findings indicate that the behavioral effects of environmental stimuli are complex and multiply determined. Conditions under which a noxious stimulus such as shock maintains responding should not, however, be regarded as paradoxical or as exceptional instances to more general behavioral processes.