Psychology ETDs

Publication Date




Instructions were used to produce differential awareness conditions in a quasi-psychotherapeutic verbal operant conditioning situation. The effects of the awareness variable on the verbal behavior emitted during two conditioning sessions and on change scores on academic anxiety scales were investigated.

Four levels of awareness were used: subjects were informed about the desired response class, the presence of reinforcement, both the presence of reinforcement and the proper response class, or nothing about either the response class or reinforcement. Each subject partici­pated individually in two 2O-minute verbal conditioning sessions on two consecutive days. Reinforcement was made contingent either upon the emission of positive statements about the subjects' own academic personality (PAS), or negative statements (NAS).

The Composite Anxiety Scale, consisting of the Test Anxiety Scale, Facilitating Anxiety Scale, and Debilitating Anxiety Scale was administered prior to the conditioning sessions, immediately following the second conditioning session, and one week later. A nonreinforcement, no awareness condition and a test-retest condition were also included.

The results indicated that both PAS and NAS were significantly influenced by the direction of reinforcement, although neither category increased as a function of time. The level of awareness instructions interacted with the reinforcement conditions to produce increases in PAS and NAS with increased awareness.

No significant changes in reported anxiety were found to occur as a result of the experimental manipulations. It was suggested that further research is necessary to determine whether the results were due to the subject sampling procedure used, or to characteristics of the experimenter.

Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Karl P. Koenig

Second Committee Member

Richard J Harris

Third Committee Member

Peder J Johnson



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Included in

Psychology Commons