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Random-ratio schedules of reinforcement: The role of early wins and unreinforced trials

John Haw


The distribution of rewards in both variable-ratio and random-ratio schedules is examined with specific reference to gambling behaviour. In particular, it is the number of early wins and unreinforced trials that is suggested to be of importance in these schedules, rather than the often-reported average frequency of wins. Gaming machine data are provided to demonstrate the importance of early wins and unreinforced trials. Additionally, the implication of these distributional properties for betting strategies and the gambler's fallacy is discussed. Finally, the role of early wins and unreinforced trials is considered for gambling research that utilises simulated gaming machines and research that compares concurrent schedules of reinforcement.


schedules of reinforcement; random ratio; gambling behaviour

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