Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Dean, Sanford J.||McAllister, Wallace R.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Extinction (Psychology); Conditioned response


In recent years a great deal of research has been conducted in an attempt to determine those variables which contribute to the acquisition and maintenance of vicious-circle behavior. Still more recently, experimenters have attempted to discover methods of stopping organisms from engaging in vicious-circle behavior. The results of one recent study suggested that vicious-circle behavior could be eliminated if an unusually long delay occurred between blocks of punished extinction trials. However, a separate body of experimental evidence suggests that, under some circumstances, the retention of aversively motivated behavior is a U-shaped function of the time since original training (the "Kamin effect”). That is, good performance is obtained following short and long retention intervals while poor performance is obtained following intermediate retention intervals. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether vicious-circle behavior might be a U-shaped function of the delay interval between training and extinction rather than a simple decreasing function as had been previously suggested. The present study consisted of a 2 x 4 factorial design with two types of extinction, punished of nonpunished, and four delay intervals (0—, 1-, 4-, or 24-hr) between training and extinction. Eighty male hooded rats were used as subjects, 10 per group. The apparatus was a straight runway similar to that used by Brown, Martin, and Morrow (1964). Subjects were given eight escape trials during training, and then, following the appropriate delay interval, were given either punished (PE) or regular (RE) extinction. For the PE subjects the mid-segment of the alley was electrified during extinction while no part of the alley was electrified for the RE subjects. Two performance measures, trials to extinction and response speed, were used. Extinction continued until a subject either failed to reach the goal box within 30 sec, reached the third segment of the alley and retraced to the first segment, or completed 70 trials. Analyses of the data revealed that vicious-circle behavior was obtained at all delay intervals as evidenced by the fact that all of the PE groups were significantly more resistant to extinction than the RE groups. Delays of 1-, 4-, and 24-hr led to significant reductions in resistance to extinction for both PE and RE groups. These results suggested that vicious-circle behavior is not eliminated by the introduction of delays before the beginning of extinction trials. Rather, delays lead to a reduced resistance to extinction in both RE and PE subjects, but PE subjects are still more resistant to extinction than the RE subjects. A U-shaped retention function was not obtained in this study. The reduced resistance to extinction which resulted from post-conditioning delays of 1-, 4-, and 24-hr was considered in terms of both memorial and motivational explanations. Since a Kamin effect was not obtained in this study, it was suggested that this phenomenon may be unique to avoidance conditioning paradigms or to situations in which the same contingencies of aversive stimulation are used in both the training and test phases.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


118 pages




Northern Illinois University

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