Master's Theses

Date of Award

Spring 1971

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




James Ryabik


The purpose of this experiment was to determine children’s degree of preference for working for a reinforcer over that of obtaining an identical reinforce by not working, i.e., “freeloading”. Using a single-organism design, twelve children ranging from three to six years of age were given the choice of bar-pressing for a candy reinforcer or of getting the reinforcer freely from a tray of candy. Each S was presented five schedules of reinforcement, four in increasing levels of difficulty and one repetition to determine the degree of preference for bar-pressing. The results indicated that the tendency to respond declined as work requirements increased and “freeloading” increased as an inverse function of ratio schedule increase. Statistical analysis indicated this change in behavior to be significant at the .01 level of probability. It was concluded that as long as work demands are not too high, children prefer to work for rather than freeload for a reinforcer. Suggestions for further research were discussed in the study.


Copyright 1971 Steven L. Fox


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