The food dispensers were programmed to drop food every 15 seconds, regardless of if the pigeon pecked the disk or not. This is noncontingent reinforcement.
We are Hungry!
They were fed less than their normal amount for the days leading up to the test so that when tested they would be hungry and motivated to perform behaviors for food (increased the power of the reinforcement.
A bird in the corner hitting its head, showing that the pigeon developed superstitious behaviors
Skinner increased the interval between each delivery of food pellets to 1 minute. The pigeons became frantic and started doing their superstitious behaviors more energetically.
“When the reinforcement in the test cage was discontinued, most of the birds gradually decreased their superstitious behaviors, until they disappeared completely.”