Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Feldman, Solomon E.||Ditrichs, Raymond

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Behaviorism (Psychology)


A 2 x 2 x 2 factorial design was employed to investigate the effect of instructions, a first model, and a second model on the self-reinforcement (SR) behavior of children. The Ss SR behavior was measured on three separate occasions while they played a preprogramed bowling game in the absence of the models (Ms). The Ss were 96 second, third, and fourth grade children (equal numbers of males and females) from an elementary school. They were randomly assigned to treatment groups, and the order of running was randomized across all Ss. Each S was individually brought to a room in the school building that contained the game. They were given instructions (i.e. a rule) by the experimenter which specified one of two criterion for SR behavior with regard to scores they received on the game. A stringent rule specified that a S should only take SRs for the highest score on the game, whereas a lenient rule specified that he should take SRs for the two highest scores. After the experimenter left the room, the S was allowed to play one complete game. The first M entered the room at the end of this game. He played the game while the S observed him, and followed either a stringent or lenient rule condition in taking SRs. Upon completion of this game, he left the room and the was given a second opportunity to play the game. When he finished this game, the second M entered the room and played the game under either a stringent or lenient rule condition. At the conclusion of this game he left the room, and the was given a third opportunity to play the game. Finally, the experimenter returned to the room and administered a post-test questionnaire tapping the S's awareness of the criteria employed and his evaluation of the models and the game. Since both Ms made positive and negative verbal evaluations of the scores they received on the game, in addition to the S's SR score for each game, the number of positive and negative comments made during each game were recorded. It was found on Test 1 that Ss generally tended to reject a stringent rule and accept a lenient rule. Further, conformity to either rule was a function of modeled SR behavior. Thus, on the second game, there was a significant effect for both the rule and the first M's behavior, with those Ss exposed to consistently stringent or consistently lenient conditions showing the greatest conformity to the rule. On the third game, there was a significant effect for the rule and the second M's behavior, but not the first M's behavior. In those groups where there was a discrepancy between the first and second Ms, the Ss followed the most recent M. In addition, the small number of Ss who made verbal comments patterned their comments after those given by the Ms. It was concluded that confirmation of the rule by the second M and the recency of M's performance were both important factors in determining the S/s SR behavior when there was a discrepancy in the modeled SR behavior. Finally, complete agreement in the SR criterion for the rule and Ms was required to establish a high degree of acceptance of a stringent rule.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


75 pages




Northern Illinois University

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