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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Martin T. Gipson

First Committee Member

Kenneth L. Beauchamp

Second Committee Member

Pam Dell Fitzgerald


The most common paradigm for investigating self-control is the choice paradigm . The choice paradigm, also known as delay of gratification, involves having an organism choose between a smaller immediate reinforcer (impulsive choice) or a larger delayed reinforcer (self-controlled choice) (Logue, 1988). The value of the work to improve self-control by increasing the organism's ability to wait for the larger reward has been questioned because of its lack of similarity to real life situations (Cole, Coll & Schoenfeld, 1982) . An alternative self-control paradigm which is based on the organism's refrainment from consumption during the presentation of a reinforcer has been used with rats and pigeons (Cole, et al. 1982; Coll, 1983; Stern, 1986). Lack of refrainment results in no reward instead of a smaller one. The present study used this refrainment procedure with preschool children to teach them to wait for 300 s using a changing criterion design. All Eight participants were able to reach criterion using this procedure. Scores on a generalization task show that this procedure helps to remediate the lowest scores on a measure of impulsivity. It was also demonstrated that the contingencies were responsible for the waiting behavior. Suggestions are made for the way this paradigm can be used to train children in real life situations.



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