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The yoked control procedure is a research design used in operant conditioning experiments in which matched research subjects are yoked (joined together) by receiving the same reinforcement but with different contingencies. Operant conditioning is said to have occurred when the frequency of a class of behavior is changed by its consequences. Reinforcement occurs when the rate of the behavior increases; punishment occurs when the rate of the behavior decreases. These behavioral changes represent the operation of the law of effect, first formulated by Edward L. Thorndike.

Consider the most celebrated case of operant conditioning. Burrhus F. Skinner placed a hungry rat into a small box containing a lever and a food cup. During Phase 1, the rat's rate of lever pressing was quite low; this unconditioned ...

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