Date of Graduation


Document Type



This series of experiments investigated whether a history of reinforcement for following or not following rules under different stimulus conditions leads to differential sensitivity to changes in contingencies under those stimulus conditions. Subjects were provided with instructions in the presence of a yellow stimulus that positively corresponded with both fixed ratio (FR) and differential reinforcement of low rates (DRL) schedules of reinforcement. Subjects were also provided with instructions in the presence of a blue stimulus that either negatively corresponded with the FR and DRL schedules, or did not correspond at all with these schedules. Subjects whose behavior followed the instructions in the presence of the yellow border and did not follow the instructions in the presence of the blue border were then tested on a mixed low-rate/differential reinforcement of high rate (DRH) schedule (Experiment 1), a fixed interval (FI) schedule (Experiments 2 and 3), or an FI followed by a DRL schedule (Experiment 4) to determine sensitivity to new schedules of reinforcement. For experiments 1-3, few subjects' behavior demonstrated instruction-following under stimulus control at the end of training. For those who did demonstrate such control, minimal effects of the training history were observed during testing. Methodological modifications were made in Experiments 2 and 3 in an attempt to change the test contingencies so differences across conditions would be easier to detect. Finally, in Experiment 4 the training was changed and all subjects were required to demonstrate conditional stimulus control before testing. The manipulation succeeded in establishing conditional stimulus control with all four subjects, three of whom showed effects of the training history during the FI test. For all four experiments, training data are presented for all subjects and test data are presented for subjects whose performance demonstrated conditional stimulus control by the end of training. Experimental results did not provide strong support for the hypothesis that differential histories of reinforcement for rule following paired with differential stimulus conditions lead to differential sensitivity to changing contingencies. Instructional and schedule variables that may have affected results are discussed, and a direction for future research is suggested.