Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Rehfeldt, Ruth


B. F. Skinner (1971) conceptualized freedom and dignity as by-products of the aversive consequences of a programmed contingency. The basic operant labs have operationalized freedom and dignity in terms of access to choice, and escape from aversive consequences. Yet, little experimentation has been conducted to demonstrate this conceptual understanding in more complex organisms. The current study used an A-B-A-B design to evaluate the effects of two types of programmed contingencies, and the relationship between those contingencies and the perception of freedom and dignity. 20 college students played two versions of Tetris, one version on a Gameboy console and one version on a laptop, each with different contingencies associated with space and time. After engagement in either version, participants recorded their individual perception of freedom and dignity associated with the condition. While participants were engaging in either the Gameboy or laptop, researchers recorded total frequency of verbal and physical responses. Results suggest a relationship between programmed contingencies which lead to aversive consequences and the perception of freedom and dignity. Implications are discussed.




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