Delay reduction hypothesis

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In classical conditioning, the delay reduction hypothesis states that certain discriminative stimuli (DS) are more effective as conditioned reinforcers (CR) if they signal a decrease in time to a positive reinforcer or an increase in time to an aversive stimulus or punishment. This is often applied in chain link schedules, with the final link being the aversive stimulus or positive (unconditioned) reinforcer.[1]


The delay reduction hypothesis was developed in 1969 by Edmund Fantino. As a hypothesis, delay reduction proposes that delays are aversive to organisms and that choices will be made by the organism to reduce delay.[2] When an organism was rewarded for an act it would repeat that action and hope for the same outcome. This would make that organism conditioned to either act or not act on the specific stimulius.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ W. David Pierce and Carl D. Cheney, Behavior Analysis and Learning 3rd ED
  2. ^ O'Daly & Fantino (2003): Delay Reduction Theory. The Behavior Analyst Today, 4 (2), 141–155. BAO accessed 26 September 2010
  3. ^ Matthew O'Daly, Edmund Fantino. "Delay reduction theory: choice, value, and conditioned reinforcement".