Alt Title

The concept of efficiency as related to reaction time, galvanic skin response conditioning, and the Rotter incomplete sentences blank

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Martin, Randall B.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)


Department of Psychology


Psychology, Pathological||Conditioned response


The purpose of the present study was two-fold: to independently gauge efficiency via a reaction time procedure in order to reassess previous GSR conditioning studies of efficiency that employed instructional set to form groups of Ss differing in efficiency: and to re-examine the relationship between efficiency so defined and psychopathology. Forty-four college Ss were run in a reaction time task in which each S was seated in front of a four-light panel in a chair that contained a button on each armrest. At the onset of the two button "ready" lights, the S was instructed to depress and hold down both buttons. The next event was the onset of the top right "go" light which signaled the S to release the right-hand button as quickly as possible. The last event was the onset of the top left light which signaled the S to release the left-hand button. Integrated muscle action potentials (MAPs) were recorded from the extensor digitorum communis muscles of both forearms. The ratio of right arm/left arm MAP was computed for the interval between the onset of the "ready" lights and the offset of the right "go" light. Based on these R/L ratios a group of efficient and a group of inefficient Ss were formed. Following the reaction time task, both groups of Ss were run in a conditioning task under two task orientations. In the Relax orientation, S were asked to relax and ignore experimental events; in the Problem orientation, Ss were asked to try to solve a problem that involved two things occurring together. The conditioning task consisted of the presentation of five repetitions of five test trigrams in an unsystematic order. One of these trigrams, the CS, was reinforced 50% of the time by a loud buzzer. GSR was monitored continuously and used to determine the occurrence of a CR. The number of trials to two successive CRs was the main dependent Measure. The Rotter ISB, an index of pathology, was administered to all Ss at the termination of the experiment. It was predicted that efficient and inefficient Ss (as determined by MAP ratios) would perform in a manner similar to instruction-induced efficient and inefficient groups in the conditioning task, i.e., when inefficient Ss were asked to relax and ignore experimental events, they would be unable to do so and thus condition faster than efficient Ss; when asked to solve a problem, they would fail to make the necessary association and thus take relatively longer to condition. Efficient Ss were expected to condition either slowly or rapidly as appropriate to task orientation. Thus, a significant type of S by task orientation interaction was predicted. Since the concept of efficiency has been proposed as a dimension for gauging psychopathology, it was expected that a significant correlation would be found between MAP ratios and Rotter ISB scores. Results were generally supportive of the efficiency concept. The type of S by task orientation interaction was highly significant in the predicted direction. However, a regression analysis disclosed that efficiency affected rate of conditioning only in the Relax orientation. Also, this effect was non-linear, i.e., as MAP ratios became very high, there seemed to be a decrease in conditioning rates. Efficiency effects were also found to be non-interactive with and independent of arousal effects. No support was found for the predicted correlation between efficiency and the Rotter ISB.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


ii, 69 pages




Northern Illinois University

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