Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Psychological Sciences

Thesis Type

Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Mark E. Bouton


instrumental behavior, behavior chains, context, renewal, relapse


Instrumental behavior chains are sequences of responses that minimally involve procurement behaviors that enable consumption. Recent studies suggest a fundamental role for context in controlling the acquisition and extinction of simple operant responding and instrumental behavior chains. Experiments on the extinction of behavior chains reveal that context affects procurement and consumption responding differently, such that procurement responding is directly affected by physical context changes, but consumption responding seems only to be affected by the amount of preceding procurement responding. Separately extinguished consumption responding renews when returned to the “context” of procurement preceding it. The present experiment was designed to determine the nature of this relationship. Rats learned two different discriminated heterogeneous chains in which a discriminative stimulus set the occasion for a procurement response (e.g., pulling a chain), which led to a second discriminative stimulus that occasion-set a consumption response (e.g., pressing a lever) that produced a food-pellet reinforcer. After learning both chains and performing them concurrently, both consumption responses were extinguished outside their respective chains. Consumption responding was only renewed when preceded by its associated procurement response and not when preceded by a procurement response that led to a different consumption response in acquisition. The results support the view that procurement is influenced by the physical context while consumption is controlled primarily by the response that precedes it in the chain. Theoretical and applied implications are discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.