Master's Theses

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Date of Award

Summer 1973

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Robert Adams


The purpose of this experiment was to demonstrate a resistance to extinction effect using vicarious partial reinforcement and comparing it to the resistance to extinction effect using direct reinforcement. Using a 2 X 3 factorial design, 30 children of seven to eight years of age were exposed to one of six conditions. In the vicarious reinforcement conditions, subjects observed a model reinforced with M & M candies according to one of three schedules (continuous reinforcement or one of two variable ratio schedules) bar- pressing at a rate of one bar-press per second. Receiving no reinforcement, Ss then bar-pressed until extinction criterion were met. In the direct reinforcement condition, subjects were exposed to one of three acquisition schedules (continuous reinforcement, or one of two modified variable ratio schedules) receiving M&M candies contingent upon their own bar-pressing and receiving the same amount of reinforcement that vicarious Ss observed. Directly following and continuous to the acquisition series, Ss were placed on an extinction series. The results failed to demonstrate the predicted resistance to extinction effect using vicarious reinforcement, although there was a significant resistance to extinction effect using direct reinforcement. It was concluded that procedural difficulties may have accounted for the large intra-group variability and absence of predicted group differences. Suggestions for further research were discussed.


Copyright 1973 Jack R. Matheson


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