Date of Award

4-1989

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. William Redmon

Second Advisor

Dr. Jack Michael

Third Advisor

Dr. Abraham Nicolaou

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Paul Mountjoy

Abstract

Eight high school students' choice behavior was studied in an applied educational setting. Students were divided into two groups based on choice patterns for immediate grade points and academic on-task performance. Students were classified as dependent-impulsive when they chose immediate points and their on-task performance was good. Students were classified as avoidance-impulsive when they chose delayed points (avoidance) and their on-task performance was poor. Dependent-impulsive choice patterns were considered maladaptive because constant information on good performance promotes dependence on support from others. Avoidance-impulsive choice patterns were considered maladaptive because they allowed students to avoid immediate aversive information on performance that might delay later more critical aversive performance information in the form of failing grades. Contingent bonus points for choosing to delay immediate points (students with dependent-impulsive patterns) or choosing to receive immediate points (students with avoidance-impulsive patterns) reversed choice preference from an impulsive pattern to a self-control pattern. Additionally, on-task and grade performance improved in students exhibiting avoidance-impulsive patterns during bonus point and subsequent baseline phases. When bonus points for self-control choice patterns were withdrawn dependent-impulsive students, but not avoidance-impulsive students, returned to previous impulsive choice patterns. The results support studies finding human impulsivity using positive and negative reinforcement procedures and suggest a procedure for improving self-control behaviors in educational settings.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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