Title

An evaluation of the efficacy of and preference for predictable versus unpredictable conditions of reinforcement and demands.

Poster Number

21B

Lead Author Major

Psychology

Lead Author Status

Sophomore

Format

Poster Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Mahshid Ghaemmaghami

Faculty Mentor Email

mghaemmaghami@pacific.edu

Faculty Mentor Department

Psychology

Graduate Student Mentor Name

Erin MacKelvie

Graduate Student Mentor Email

e_mackelvie@u.pacific.edu

Graduate Student Mentor Department

Psychology

Abstract/Artist Statement

This study examined the efficacy of and the preference for different demand and reinforcement conditions with a 7-year-old typically developing girl. Children are often asked to complete various tasks and are then rewarded (i.e., reinforced) with preferred items and activities in hopes of increasing their productivity and compliance with demand situations. It is unclear, however, whether children prefer to know the amount of work that they must complete and the type of reward they will receive prior to completing these tasks. Identifying contexts that are both efficacious in maximizing children’s performance as well as preferred by children is a socially important goal. An experimental method of objectively identifying an individual’s preference for various environmental conditions is a concurrent chains arrangement in which the individual can directly select the preferred environmental condition they wish to experience (Hanley, 2010). In this study, three contexts were used to evaluate the child’s preference and performance: a) a predictable context in which both the exact amount of work and the exact reward were known to the child, b) an unpredictable context in which both the exact amount of work and the exact reward were unknown to the child, and c) a control context in which there was no limit on the amount of work to be completed and no reward was provided. The study showed that the participant preferred the predictable context and completed more items accurately during this condition. These results suggest that the participant may work better, or finish her homework more quickly, if she knows the amount of work and the reinforcer before starting a task. This information could be used by her parents and teachers to design the most optimal teaching contexts for her.

Keywords: choice, concurrent chains arrangement, predictable reinforcement, preference; unpredictable reinforcement

Location

DeRosa University Center, Ballroom

Start Date

28-4-2018 10:00 AM

End Date

28-4-2018 12:00 PM

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Apr 28th, 10:00 AM Apr 28th, 12:00 PM

An evaluation of the efficacy of and preference for predictable versus unpredictable conditions of reinforcement and demands.

DeRosa University Center, Ballroom

This study examined the efficacy of and the preference for different demand and reinforcement conditions with a 7-year-old typically developing girl. Children are often asked to complete various tasks and are then rewarded (i.e., reinforced) with preferred items and activities in hopes of increasing their productivity and compliance with demand situations. It is unclear, however, whether children prefer to know the amount of work that they must complete and the type of reward they will receive prior to completing these tasks. Identifying contexts that are both efficacious in maximizing children’s performance as well as preferred by children is a socially important goal. An experimental method of objectively identifying an individual’s preference for various environmental conditions is a concurrent chains arrangement in which the individual can directly select the preferred environmental condition they wish to experience (Hanley, 2010). In this study, three contexts were used to evaluate the child’s preference and performance: a) a predictable context in which both the exact amount of work and the exact reward were known to the child, b) an unpredictable context in which both the exact amount of work and the exact reward were unknown to the child, and c) a control context in which there was no limit on the amount of work to be completed and no reward was provided. The study showed that the participant preferred the predictable context and completed more items accurately during this condition. These results suggest that the participant may work better, or finish her homework more quickly, if she knows the amount of work and the reinforcer before starting a task. This information could be used by her parents and teachers to design the most optimal teaching contexts for her.

Keywords: choice, concurrent chains arrangement, predictable reinforcement, preference; unpredictable reinforcement