Term of Award

Summer 1984

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Gary McClure

Committee Member 1

Richard L. Rogers

Committee Member 2

Robert Haney

Abstract

Previous research has shown that reinforcement for one response can inhibit another, and many response prevention therapies are based upon this body of research. However, other studies have indicated that response elimination procedures do not last beyond the treatment phase. Leitenberg, Rawson and Mulick's (1975) study with rats showed that response topography was of great importance in reducing long-term extinction responding. The present experiment extended the parameters of the Leitenberg et al. (1975) findings by using a reinforced competing behavior of a strikingly different topography, while greatly expanding the duration of reinforcement for the competing response. Thirty experimentally naive male Holtzman rats were randomly placed in three groups of 10 subjects each and trained to bar press at a standard high rate. The experiment consisted of 14 days of pretraining and three experimental phases (15 days each). Rod pressing served as the competing response. Group A was reinforced for rod pressing in an S+, S- discrimination paradigm for 30 days and Group B for 15 days. Group C served as the control group and was never reinforced for rod pressing. Although significant differences among groups occurred within phases, the results indicate that neither duration of reinforcement or topography of the competing response resulted in any significant between group differences on the long-term rate of extinction responding. On the final day of the experiment, Group A and Group B were approaching the terminal value of Group C (the control group) with no significant differences occurring among groups.

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