Experimental support for the use of story telling to guide behavior: The effects of story telling on multiple and mixed fixed ratio (FR) /differential reinforcement of low rate (DRL) schedule responding.
Date of Graduation
Story telling is universal, and the significance of stories may lie in their ability to guide behavior. An informal analysis of story telling suggests that stories provide a model of behavior, establish motivation, and stimulate the development of self-generated rules. In psychotherapy, stories illustrate points, suggest solutions, improve client insight, increase motivation, and establish rapport (Barker, 1996; Zeig, 1980). Despite the popular use of stories across theoretical orientations and treatment approaches, it is not clear if stories facilitate behavior change. Observational and correlational data suggest that stories may guide behavior, but there is no experimental support for these findings. The present study was a laboratory analogue of the clinical use of storytelling, designed to experimentally examine the extent to which stories facilitate acquisition of appropriate responding. Sixty-six participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (a) read stories and generate rules; (b) read stories without generating rules; and (c) no stories/minimal instructions. Story condition participants read a story in which a slow-paced character wins a race and another story in which a fast-paced character wins a race. Participants responded to either a mixed reinforcement schedule or a multiple reinforcement schedule. The schedules provided monetary reinforcement for fast-rate responding in the Fixed Ratio (FR) component and slow-rate responding in the Differential Reinforcement of Low Rate (DRL) component. Results suggest that participants exposed to stories earned more points/money and were more likely to appropriately discriminate between the two components on the mixed reinforcement schedule. Stories had less effect on the multiple reinforcement schedule. Results provide initial empirical support for the use of storytelling to guide human behavior. Psychotherapeutic implications and future research directions are discussed.
Heffner, Michelle, "Experimental support for the use of story telling to guide behavior: The effects of story telling on multiple and mixed fixed ratio (FR) /differential reinforcement of low rate (DRL) schedule responding." (2003). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9018.