Psychology ETDs

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While it has been demonstrated that stimulus novelty has a variety of influences upon the behavior of children, there has been little systematic research on the effects of stimulus novelty upon discrimination learning. Two experiments were conducted to investigate the effects of relevant stimulus novelty, defined in terms of familiarization pretraining, on the discrimination learning of normal children. First and second grade children learned either a high or low stimulus similarity, two-choice, discrimination problem. Prior to this discrimination task the subjects received either no familiarization (C) or 15 familiarization training trials with the negative stimulus(NF), positive stimulus (PF), both the positive and negative stimulus (PNF), or two irrelevant stimuli (IF). Total familiarization trials for the groups were equated by adding familiarization trials with one of the irrelevant stimuli to the PF and NF groups. On the discrimination task, subjects were run to a criterion of 10 consecutive correct responses or a total of 100 trials. Response measures of trials to criterion, percentage of subjects responding to the negative stimulus, and first trial choice responses were collected. Stimulus preference data derived from the choice responses of the subjects indicated that subjects preferred the novel as compared to the familiar This effect upon preference was, however, transitory and unaffected by stimulus similarity. Familiarization pretraining affected the acquisition of the discrimination task in a manner such that NF significantly improved performance while PF and PNF impaired performance, although not significantly. The effects of novelty upon performance were directly related to the grade level of the subjects. The acquisition rate and initial choice responses of the first grade subjects were more influenced by stimulus novelty than second grade subjects.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Douglas Peter Ferraro

Second Committee Member

Peder Jack Johnson

Third Committee Member

Henry Carleton Ellis



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Psychology Commons