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The Further Analysis of Catania's Concept of the Operant

Catania’s theory of the operant incorporated the continuous characteristic of behaviour, where the response distribution follows a normal distribution. That is, most responses fall within the reinforced range, a few responses persisted outside of the reinforced range. Three roosters and three hens were used as the subjects. A continuous reinforcement (CRF) schedule was implemented throughout both experiments of the study. In Experiment 1, the screen was divided into four quadrants. Only one quadrant was active in each condition and the active area shifted to a different quadrant across conditions. Each peck within the active quadrant was considered as a correct response, which results in reinforcement. Each peck outside the active quadrant was considered as an incorrect response, which results in extinction. In Experiment 2, the screen was divided into vertical strips. During Conditions 1 to 8, the consequences for the correct and incorrect responses are the same as Experiment 1. In Condition 9, the consequence for the incorrect responses changed from extinction to punishment (delay to reinforcement). That is, a 3 second red screen was followed with each occurrence of an incorrect response. It was found that the incorrect responses persisted during each condition of the two experiments for most birds. It was also found that most of the hens’ responses were correct responses by the end of each condition in Experiment 2. However, for all birds in Experiment 1 and the roosters in Experiment 2, most responses were not correct by the end of each condition. The findings of Experiment 2 also indicated that the changes in condition length, active area’s size, and consequence of the incorrect responses might have had some influence on the number of incorrect responses. Overall, the findings demonstrated behavioral continuity through exploring the distribution of response proportion when reinforcement was placed on the correct responses, and when extinction or punishment was placed on the incorrect responses. Thus, the study provided some empirical support towards Catania’s concept of the operant.
Type of thesis
Zhang, Y. (2014). The Further Analysis of Catania’s Concept of the Operant (Thesis, Master of Applied Psychology (MAppPsy)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9373
University of Waikato
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