Date of Award

4-2000

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Jack Michael

Third Advisor

Lester Wright Jr.

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only

Abstract

Ten human subjects participated in a two-part experiment to determine the amount of response variability on a simple computer task during conditioning, extinction, and reconditioning. Each part of the experiment enlisted five subjects. Response variability was defined as the average deviation from the median response location for each experimental phase. This was an attempt to systematically replicate the study by Antonitis (1951) with the addition of a protocol analysis. The results show some support for the findings of Antonitis, in that continuous reinforcement resulted in low variability and variability decreased across conditioning phases. However, variability increased during extinction for only five of the ten subjects. The protocol analysis proved useful for explaining some of the discrepancies observed during extinction for the other four subjects. Future systematic variability research, using this study as a foundation, should focus on the change in variability during extinction to determine if the increase observed by Antonitis over sequential experimental phases is an accurate portrayal of the true nature of variability during extinction conditions.

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