Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Jack L. Michael

Second Advisor

Dr. Dale Brethower

Third Advisor

Dr. Lisa Baker

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Howard Poole


The present study compared three conditions in the training of a set of operant responses on later probability of behavior that represented a generalization or co-adduction of the behavior emitted in training. In two of the conditions, the numbers of emissions of target responses were exactly equal; in a third condition, the number of emissions of target responses was a lesser quantity. The two conditions with an equal number of emissions of target responses were distinguished by the rate of responses yielded by contingencies surrounding training in each condition. In one of these conditions, subjects responded at a relatively low rate; in the other condition, subjects responded at a relatively high rate.

The study used 18 normal adult human subjects. The apparatus comprised a computer-based, paired-associate-type matching task. Each subject was exposed to each of the three training conditions.

After a training period, subjects spent 30 min in a distraction phase. After the distraction phase, subjects were exposed to three measures of behavior probability. It was found that probability was consistently less for behavior associated with the training condition involving a lesser quantity of emissions of target responses, relative to the other conditions. In two instances, a condition with a greater quantity of emissions was superior to the condition with the lesser quantity of emissions to a statistically significant degree. There appeared to be no difference between the two conditions with an equal number of emissions that were performed at a low vs. high rate.

The study concluded with a discussion of the significance of the variables of number of emissions and rate of emissions, and a recommendation for an increase in attention to the variable of number of emissions in education.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access