Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Ringdahl, Joel


Several variables have been shown to influence resistance to change including rate, magnitude, and delay to reinforcement (Nevin, 1974). One variable that has not been studied with humans concerns the evaluation of resistance to change with unconditioned and conditioned reinforcers. In Experiment 1 (Resistance to Extinction Assessment), 5 participants' behaviors were reinforced during a baseline phase on a mult VI 30 s VI 30 s schedule with either a conditioned (i.e., token) or unconditioned reinforcer (i.e., food). Following equal reinforcement rates across components, extinction was introduced as a disruptor. All participants showed greater resistance to extinction in the component associated with conditioned reinforcers than unconditioned reinforcers. In Experiment 2 (Varied Distractors Assessment), 4 participants experienced a baseline phase the same as Experiment 1 (i.e., mult VI 30 s VI 30 s). Each participant was then exposed to prefeeding and distraction as disruptors in separate analyses. Results showed that behaviors were more resistant to distraction with conditioned than unconditioned reinforcers, similar to Experiment 1. However, when prefeeding disrupted responding, greater resistance to change was observed with unconditioned reinforcers than conditioned reinforcers. Implications of the results are discussed.




This dissertation is only available for download to the SIUC community. Current SIUC affiliates may also access this paper off campus by searching Dissertations & Theses @ Southern Illinois University Carbondale from ProQuest. Others should contact the interlibrary loan department of your local library or contact ProQuest's Dissertation Express service.