Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

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

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology




According to the Amsel-Spence theory of frustration, certain unlearned responses occur when a goal object (e.g., food) is administered. Fractional components of such goal responses become classically conditioned to the situationall cues present. When nonreward occurs in the presence of conditioned goal responses, an unlearned response, primary frustration, is elicited, and fractional components of frustration become classically conditioned to the situational cues. It would be expected, on theoretical grounds, that each of these various processes, presumed to underlie the conditioning of frustration, could be affected by drive level. Previous research, however, does not allow a determination of which of them is so affected. By controlling the effect of drive level on the magnitude of the unlearned goal response, the present study attempted to determine whether drive level would affect the conditioning of frustration through its effect on the magnitude of the conditioned goal response and of primary frustration. The learning of a new, instrumental response, jumping a hurdle to escape from cues which had previously been paired with nonreward, was used as an index of conditioned frustration. This procedure allowed drive level manipulations to be made so that Ss with equal drive levels during the conditioning of the goal response but with different drive levels during the conditioning of frustration could be compared. Ninety Ss, divided into four experimental and two control groups (n = 15), were maintained throughout the experiment on a 23-hr. food deprivation schedule. After nine days of deprivation, the Ss received one day of handling and exploration of the apparatus. One day after exploration the experimental treatments, which were divided into three phases, were begun. During Phase 1 (8 days), the experimental Ss were administered a total of 45 rewarded trials which involved direct placement into one side of a two-compartment box. One-half of the Ss were administered these trials under low drive (3 hrs. since eating) and the other half under high drive (22 hrs. since eating). These trials allowed the goal response to be conditioned. Between Phases 1 and 2, half of the experimental Ss at each drive level had their drive level shifted (high to low or low to high). Phase 2 (2 days) consisted of a total of 12 nonrewarded trials in the presence of a CS (increase in illumination). These trials allowed frustration to be conditioned to the CS and the situational cues. Between Phases 2 and 3, those Ss which had had their drive level shifted were returned to their original drive level. Phase 3 (1 day) consisted of 20 hurdle-jumping trials in which £ could escape from the frustration-eliciting cues of the conditioning box into an adjacent "safe" box. Speed of hurdle jumping was taken as an index of conditioned frustration. The two control groups were treated the same as the two experimented groups which had not had their drive level shifted except that they never received a food reward during Phase 1. Therefore, it was assumed that neither the goal response nor frustration would be conditioned in these groups. The results indicated that faster speeds of hurdle jumping were obtained when drive had been high during Phase 2 than when it had been low. This finding was the basis for drawing the major conclusion of the present research: that drive level has a significant effect on the conditioning of frustration, with high drive resulting in a greater magnitude of conditioned frustration than low drive. It was further concluded that drive level has this effect on the conditioning of frustration irrespective of its effect on the magnitude of the unlearned goal response which, in this experiment, was controlled. A comparison between the experimental groups which had not had their drive level shifted and their control groups indicated that under high drive the experimental group jumped significantly faster them its control group, while under low drive the two groups did not differ. These results allowed the conclusion to be drawn that some minimum amount of drive has to be present to permit frustration to be conditioned.


Includes bibliographical references.


iii, 74 pages




Northern Illinois University

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