Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 11 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

People and nonhuman animals have the ability to respond unpredictably, indeed in random-like ways, and to do so as an adaptive response to environmental conditions. This chapter discusses evidence for two related claims. The first is that response variability is precisely controlled by reinforcers that are contingent upon levels of variability; that is, variability can serve as an operant response. The second claim is that levels of variability can approach that of a random, or stochastic, model; that is, operant responding can be truly unpredictable. These claims, if valid, have important implications for how we behave, normally and abnormally, and may help us to explain voluntary action, something that is often thought to be exclusive to humans and to depend upon highest-level cognitive capacities.

Keywords: response variability, reinforcers, unpredictability, stochastic behavior

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.