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Please direct correspondence to J.J. McDowell, Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, e-mail: jack.mcdowell@emory.edu



  • matching theory
  • matching law
  • quantitative law of effect
  • Herrnstein's hyperbola

On The Classic And Modern Theories Of Matching


Journal Title:

Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior


Volume 84, Number 1


, Pages 111-127

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Classic matching theory, which is based on Herrnstein's (1961) original matching equation and includes the well-known quantitative law of effect, is almost certainly false. The theory is logically inconsistent with known experimental findings, and experiments have shown that its central constant-k assumption is not tenable. Modern matching theory, which is based on the power function version of the original matching equation, remains tenable, although it has not been discussed or studied extensively. The modern theory is logically consistent with known experimental findings, it predicts the fact and details of the violation of the classic theory's constant-k assumption, and it accurately describes at least some data that are inconsistent with the classic theory.

Copyright information:

2005 Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior

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