Browse All

Theses & Dissertations

Submissions

  • Submissions (Articles, Chapters, and other finished products)

The effects of outcome reversals on children's conditional discrimination, equivalence, and reinforcer-probe performances

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Natalie B. Jacome (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site: http://library.uncw.edu/
Advisor
Carol Pilgrim

Abstract: Previous studies have shown that class-specific reinforcers are critical not only to the establishment but also to the maintenance of conditional discriminations. However, this effect has yet to be tested with humans. In Experiment 1, normally capable children were trained to perform two arbitrary conditional discriminations (AB and AC) with class-specific reinforcers. Selections of B1, B2, or B3 given A1, A2, or A3, respectively, produced R1, R2, or R3, respectively. Upon mastery, the reinforcement contingencies were reversed such that selections of B1, B2, or B3 given A1, A2, or A3, respectively, now produced R2, R3, or R1, respectively. Next, selections of C1, C2, or C3 given A1, A2, or A3, respectively, produced R1, R2, or R3, respectively; but again, upon mastery, the reinforcement contingencies were reversed such that selections of C1, C2, or C3 given A1, A2, or A3, respectively, now produced R3, R1, or R2. In contrast to the findings of previous studies, most participants (six out of nine) showed no decline in accuracy on their conditional discrimination performances following training with reversed outcomes. In experiment 2, reflexivity, symmetry, and equivalence probes were administered to evaluate the formation of stimulus classes A1B1C1, A2B2C2, and A3B3C3. In addition, participants completed reinforcer probes in order to ascertain whether the class-specific reinforcers had become class members. Four of the eight participants performed positively on tests for equivalence, but we found little evidence of the reinforcers becoming class members. Experiment 3, which was conducted with the same stimuli used to complete Experiments 1 and 2, was a replication of those studies without outcome reversals. Six of the seven participants performed positively on tests for equivalence. Moreover, for three of these participants, arranging class-consistent reinforcement contingencies brought reinforcer-probe performances more closely in line with the original equivalence classes. Experiment 4 was a replication of Experiment 3 with novel stimuli. All three of the participants performed positively on tests for equivalence and the reinforcer-probe performances of two of these participants indicated the expansion of the equivalence classes to include reinforcers. Implications are discussed.

Additional Information

Publication
Thesis
A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of Masters of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Keywords
Reinforcement (Psychology)
Subjects
Reinforcement (Psychology)