Generalized Conditioned Reinforcers: A Procedural Evaluation

Principal Investigator: Iser DeLeon

This study attempts to expand the research on generalized condition reinforcers and satiation by determining what variables allow conditioned reinforcers to mitigate the effects of satiation. Prior research suggests that generalized conditioned reinforcers are valuable because they can be exchanged for a variety of commodities. Thus, if a particular commodity is satiated, the generalized reinforcers will maintain reinforcing value if they can be exchanged for other options. However, little research has attempted to narrow down the exact mechanism through which this process works. For example, does it matter how many or what types of commodities are available?

In the current study, participants will be asked to complete math problems under a variety of conditions. There will be approximately 10 participants in this study. Utilizing a single-subject multiple baseline across subjects design, a reinforcer assessment will be conducted to determine if participants will work for points that are exchangeable for a high preferred food. Next, a multi-element design will be used to compare several conditions when the participant is satiated on the high preferred food including working for the high preferred food only, multiple foods that are similar to the high preferred food, a variety of food items that are dissimilar to the high preferred food, and a control in which the participant will receive points independent of responses. It is expected that participants will work at higher rates in the condition in which dissimilar foods are available.