Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Dean, Sanford J.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Extinction (Psychology); Conditioned response


Vicious-circle (VC) behavior has typically been demonstrated in a straight alley. Ss are trained to escape from an electrified start box and alley to a goal box. During extinction, for some Ss a segment of the alley is electrified (punished extinction), while for other Ss, regular extinction occurs. VC behavior is evidenced by the usual finding that punished-extinction (PE) Ss are more resistant to extinction than regular-extinction (RE) Ss. All Ss are assumed to have two responses available to them during extinction, running or not running. Since running has been reinforced throughout training, while remaining in the start area has been punished, initially running is the dominant response. For PE Ss, running takes them across the electrified grid and initiates the vicious circle, according to the processes described by the Mowrer-Brown hypothesis. In the present experiments, it was hypothesized that if an additional running response of equal habit strength were available during extinction, but not punished, VC behavior would not be as likely to occur. A Y maze was chosen as an appropriate apparatus to investigate this problem. Two experiments were conducted. The first experiment was designed to assess the effects of the turn required in the Y maze. RE and PE Ss given escape training in a straight alley were compared to similar groups run in a one-armed Y maze. The apparatus was similar to that described by Brown, Martin, & Morrow (1964) except that a Y-shaped extension of the start box was inserted for half of the Ss. Ten Ss per group received 15 escape-training trials followed by extinction trials to a criterion of one 60-sec. trial or to a maximum of 70 trials. PE Ss were more resistant to extinction than EE Ss, and there was no difference between the one-armed Y and straight-alley groups. In the second experiment, the two-armed Y maze was used. Ss were given 15 escape-training trials in each alley. Then, four extinction conditions were introduced. RE Ss (n = 10) were allowed entry into both shock-free alleys. A PE condition (n = 10) also had access to both alleys, but each alley contained an electrified mid-segment. A third group (n = 20) was allowed a choice of either alley. One alley contained a charged segment while the other did not (C-REPE). A fourth group (n = 10) was added to investigate the effects of forced trials in extinction (F-REPE). In this instance also, one alley contained a charged segment, the other did not. The F-REPE and PE conditions were alike and more resistant to extinction than the RE condition, while the C-REPE condition was intermediate but did not differ statistically from the other three groups. The C-REPE group was divided into two subgroups on the basis of whether the shocked or the non-shocked alley was chosen on the first extinction trial. A statistical comparison of the two subgroups revealed that Ss punished on the first extinction trial were less resistant to extinction than Ss not punished on the first trial. The subgroup of Ss shocked on the first extinction trial was less resistant to extinction than the PE group, while the subgroup not shocked on the first trial was more resistant to extinction than the PE group. The number of extinction trials of PE and PE Ss in the Y-maze condition of Experiment 1 were compared to the RE and PE conditions of Experiment 2. In both cases, Experiment 2 Ss were less resistant to extinction than S_s in Experiment 1. It was concluded that VC behavior can be established in both a one-armed and a two-armed Y maze. Ss given a choice between a shocked and a non-shocked alley in extinction exhibit less resistance to extinction if the shocked alley is chosen on the first extinction trial. Forced trials to a shocked and a non-shocked alley yield performance similar to a PE group.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


xi, 110 pages




Northern Illinois University

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