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Response Lag

 

Techniques Conditioning > Response Lag

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Response lag is delay between a stimulus being presented (typically a command) and the action that is conditioned to follow it.

It is almost as if the subject has forgotten or is being lazy. They may look at you as if to say 'Do I have to?' But then eventually they obey. This may also be done rather slowly.

Example

A trainer asks his dog to sit. The dog looks at him for a while then slowly lowers its hind quarters.

A parent calls a child for dinner. The child turns up five minutes later. This is a regular pattern.

Discussion

Response lag can itself be a conditioned action when the subject has learned that they can delay and that this may benefit them, for example with additional attention or enthusiasm when they eventually do what is wanted. It can also be caused by a reward that is given late -- even a few seconds later can reduce the strength of the association between action and reward.

Other reasons for a response lag include:

  • A lack of understanding of what is required.
  • Slow or muddled thinking about what is required.
  • Not realizing that a reward is available if the action is completed.
  • Not being motivated by the reward at the moment.
  • Not hearing, seeing or otherwise sensing the cue.
  • Sensing multiple stimuli, each of which may be paired with different actions.
  • Being distracted by something else and seeking to complete this first.

A way to handle response lag is to give a reward only for immediate action and not for delayed action. You could alternatively give a nicer reward when they obey with alacrity. The limited hold is specifically designed to treat response lag.

See also

Positive Reinforcement, The Limited Hold, Learning Dip

 

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