Psychology ETDs

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Two experiments were performed to assess two roles commonly assigned response-produced (feedback) stimuli in learning theories by comparing the behavioral outcomes of these inferred events against a known property of external stimuli. The particular property chosen was transfer of discrimination because of its consistency and generality.

The first experiment was designed to determine whether feedback produced by preceding behavior guides ensuing behavior by facilitating transfer in much the same way as environmentally-produced stimuli. By contrast, the second experiment investigated the role of feedback in response differentiation; it attempted to determine whether rats can utilize feedback from concurrent responding to mediate selection among alternative responses in such a way that the learning of a difficult differentiation may be facilitated by the learning of an easier differentiation. The difference between these two experiments resides in the temporal sequencing of response produced stimuli.

Twelve rats were used in each experiment. In keeping with the transfer of discrimination paradigm, three groups of four rats were assigned to a gradual transfer condition (G), and abrupt transfer condition (A), and a hard discrimination condition (H).

The results indicated that (a) making a difficult discrimination among feedback stimuli with respect to ensuing behavior was facilitated by initial training on an easy response discrimination, and (b) learning a difficult response differentiation was facilitated by previously learning an easier differentiation. The results apparently establish that response-produced feedback are sufficient for the selection of ensuing and coincident behavior and that these feedback stimuli share common properties with external stimuli, The relevancy of these findings for learning theories and two-state discrimination models are indicated.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Frank Anderson Logan

Second Committee Member

Henry Carleton Ellis

Third Committee Member

Paul T. Therkildsen

Fourth Committee Member

Douglas P. Ferraro

Fifth Committee Member

David W. Bessemer



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Psychology Commons