Pigeons shift their preference toward locations of food that take more effort to obtain

Andrea M. Friedrich, Thomas R. Zentall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Although animals typically prefer to exert less effort rather than more effort to obtain food, the present research shows that requiring greater effort to obtain food at a particular location appears to increase the value of that location. In Experiment 1, pigeons' initial preference for one feeder was significantly reduced by requiring 1 peck to obtain food from that feeder and requiring 30 pecks to obtain food from the other feeder. In Experiment 2, a similar decrease in preference was not found when pigeons received reinforcement from both feeders independently of the amount of effort required. These results are consistent with the within-trial contrast effect proposed by Clement et al. (2000) in which the relative hedonic value of a reward depends on the state of the animal immediately prior to the reward. The greater the improvement from that prior state the greater the value of the reinforcer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-415
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioural Processes
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 30 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH-59194.


  • Choice
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Contrast
  • Reward value
  • White Carneaux pigeons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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