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Abstract

A number of theories suggest that people behave similarly in similar situations. Social learning theory in particular suggests that people behave similarly in situations perceived to be similar in their pattern of reinforcement contingencies. This study used two measures of perception of behavior similarity and three measures of perception of situation similarity for 20 situations chosen by each of II female subjects as beingss characteristic of her current life. Measures of perceived behavior similarity included paired comparison judgments and analyses of similarity of ratings of behavior probabilities. Measures of perceived situation similarity included paired comparison judgments and analyses of similarity of ratings of outcome or reinforcement contingencies for the specified behaviors, including both internal and external reinforcers. In addition, reliability estimates were obtained on some tasks. Results indicated the following: (1) Generally there was a statistically significant relationship between measures of perceived situation similarity and measures of perceived behavior similarity. The magnitude of the relationship varied considerably from subject to subject. (2) Measures of the same variables did not show better agreement with one another than they did with measures of the different variables, despite evidence of adequate reliability. The data suggested general support for social learning theory but also evidence that factors other than perceived reinforcers in the situation influence how situations are perceived and how people behave in them.