By John H. Kagel;Raymond C. Battalio;Leonard Green
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Extra info for Economic Choice Theory: An Experimental Analysis of Animal Behavior
Under these procedures, changing the amount of the commodity delivered per payoff, or altering the number of lever presses required per payoff, has the same effect on the budget constraint as a change in prices. Hence, the number of lever presses required per unit of commodity consumed corresponds to the concept of price and is referred to as such. Typically, prices were changed by altering the amount of the commodity per press. In all cases, lever pressing requirements were small in comparison with what rats can perform in experimental chambers (Collier, Hirsch, and Hamlin, 1972) and were not an effective constraint on total consumption.
Since lever pressing may be viewed as a job, with leisure (not pressing) a positive argument in the utility function (see Chapters 4 and 5), this amounts to assuming that the utility function is weakly separable with respect to consumption and work. 2 This seems like a fairly safe assumption given the commodities in question and the minimal lever pressing requirements imposed. But the assumption is supported by both direct tests (Kagel et al, 1975; Thistle, 1983) and indirect tests based on comparing outcomes across experiments with time or lever pressing as the medium of exchange (see the next section).
In Figure 2A. la, the time constraint is depicted as a straight line with a slope of minus one. Note that in this figure, the satiation point (A) is inside the time constraint, so that the forager can hunt until satiation is attained. In this instance, the marginal value tlieorem as specified by Charnov (1976) and Parker and Stuart (1976) holds. However, also notice that in this case, the hunter-gatherer has excess time, which means that foraging in one patch imposes no costs in terms of forgone opportunities for prey capture in another patch.