Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




In this study, positive and negative reinforcement procedures were directly compared across subjects to determine whether more impulsive responding would occur with one reinforcement procedure when compared to the other, under a discrete-trial choice procedure. For both reinforcement procedures, taped music served as the reinforcer. For the positive reinforcer, subjects brought in their own music, from which tapes were made for use in the study. Subjects then ranked the tapes according to their preferences. For the negative reinforcers, the investigators made tapes of various types of music, and all subjects ranked their preferences for these tapes. Subjects were then presented with a choice between a smaller reward available immediately, or a larger reward that was delayed in time.

Statistical analysis did not indicate that there was a significant difference in the amount of impulsive responding generated under each reinforcement procedure. A visual inspection of the data however, did suggest a strong pattern in the responses under the negative reinforcement procedure that did not occur under the positive reinforcement procedure. This pattern of responding under the negative reinforcement procedure reflected more impulsive responding as a function of the increased delays to the larger reinforcer. These results of this study support previous findings that suggest that subjects will emit self-controlled responding under reinforcement procedures when the stimulus is of a secondary-type. The results of this study also extend our knowledge about the effects of negative reinforcers of a secondary-type.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access