Wulfert, Greenway, Farkas, Hayes, & Dougher, 1994

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APA Citation: 

Wulfert, E., Greenway, D. E., Farkas, P., Hayes, S. C., & Dougher, M. J. (1994). Correlation between a personality test for rigidity and rule-governed insensitivity to operant contingencies. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27, 659-671.

Publication Topic: 
RFT: Empirical
Publication Type: 
rule-governed behavior, instructional control, individual differences, insensitivity to contingencies, multiple schedules

Adults were selected on the basis of their scores on the Scale for Personality Rigidity (Rehfisch, 1958a). Their scores served as a measure of hypothesized rule governance in the natural environment. Experiment 1 studied the effects of accurate versus minimal instructions and high versus low rigidity on performance on a multiple differential-reinforcement-of-low-rate (DRL) 4-s fixed-ratio (FR) 18 schedule. When the schedule was switched to extinction, accurate instructions and high rigidity were associated with greater perseveration in the response pattern subjects developed during the reinforcement phase. In Experimenter 2, the effects of rigidity and of accurate versus inaccurate instructions were studied. Initially, all subjects received accurate instructions about an FR schedule. The schedule was then switched to DRL, but only half of the subjects received instructions about the DRL contingency, ad the other half received FR instructions as before. Accurate instructions minimized individual differences because both high and low scores on the rigidity scale earned points in DRL. However, when inaccurate instructions were provided, all high-rigidity subjects abandoned them and responded appropriately to DRL. The experiments demonstrate a correlation between performances observed in the human operant laboratory and a paper-and-pencil test of rigidity that purportedly reflects important response styles that differentiate individuals in the natural environment. Implications for applied research and intervention are discussed.

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