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DEVELOPMENT AND MODIFICATION OF A RESPONSE CLASS VIA POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT: A TRANSLATIONAL APPROACH

Authors


  • This study was completed in partial fulfillment of the MA degree by the first author. Completion of this study was supported in part by a grant from the UMBC Graduate Student Association and the Henry C. Welcome Fellowship from the Maryland Higher Education Commission. We are particularly indebted to Robert Ainsworth for the design of the software application used in this study. We thank Carrie Borrero and Iser DeLeon for their helpful comments on a prior version of this manuscript. We also thank Ifat Bilitzer, Mariana Castillo, Kaitlin Coryat, Michelle Frank-Crawford, Nicole Hausman, Umar Kahn, Florian Muellerklein, Allison Schultz, Julia Woods, and Julie Young for their assistance with this research.

  • Readers interested in obtaining a copy of the application used in this research should contact J. C. Borrero; however, we regret that we cannot provide technical support for the application.

Address correspondence to J. C. Borrero, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, Maryland 21250 (e-mail: jborrero@umbc.edu).

Abstract

When responses function to produce the same reinforcer, a response class exists. Researchers have examined response classes in applied settings; however, the challenges associated with conducting applied research on response class development have recently necessitated the development of an analogue response class model. To date, little research has examined response classes that are strengthened by negative reinforcement. The current investigation was designed to develop a laboratory model of a response class through positive reinforcement (i.e., points exchangeable for money) and through negative reinforcement (i.e., the avoidance of scheduled point losses) with 11 college students as participants and clicks as the operant. Results of both the positive and negative reinforcement evaluations showed that participants usually selected the least effortful response that produced points or the avoidance of point losses, respectively. The applied implications of the findings are discussed, along with the relevance of the present model to the study of punishment and resurgence.

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