Journal of Psychology and the Behavioral Sciences - 1991

Volume 6


Contingent Incentives, Education, and "Peer Support":
An Ecobehavioral Program to Improve Safety Belt Use Among High School Students

Mark J. Schmit and Reed Hardy

St. Norbert College

The effects of a 3 faceted program designed to increase safety belt use among high school students were assessed. The program was based on past researchers' use of contingent incentives and educational or environmental intervention, but added a further dimension; "peer support" (a combination of peer modeling and peer social support). Safety belt usage was observed at the entrances of high school parking lots during morning arrival times. Observers were college students made inconspicuous by dressing and behaving in ways that closely resembled the high school students under study. After baseline data were collected, students who were using safety belts were rewarded by assumed peers with award certificates and candy. Non-wearers received educational pamphlets. Posters and daily announcements educated the students and provided further support of safety belt use. Baseline data were collected 3 days prior to the first intervention and during the first intervention itself. Follow-up data were collected 2 and 4 weeks after the final intervention (7 week study duration). Post-intervention mean safety belt use was significantly higher than baseline, and had not declined significantly since reaching a peak during the third intervention.

Outcome Imagery in Mental Practice

Louis G. Lippman

Western Washington University

In order to test whether mental practice of favorable or unfavorable performance outcomes would affect execution of a perceptual-motor skill, 45 student volunteers participated in a perceptual-motor tracking task. A control group engaged in a "neutral" imaging activity task for its interpolated activity while experimental groups were asked to produce images of positive or negative performance outcomes, i.e., successful or unsuccessful performance. These imaging activities failed to influence physical performance. However, ancillary information raised a suspicion that the apparently strong "outcome imagery" effects reported in prior studies may have been due in part to participants' compliance with demand characteristics.

Effects of Diagnostic and Non-Diagnostic Factors on Base-Rate Utilization

Timothy G. Heckman and Jack L. Powell

The University of Hartford

Independent experiments (3) were conducted to investigate what conditions facilitate the use of base-rate information in the presence of case-specific information, and how individuals utilize non-diagnostic base rates. The "Cab Problem" and the "Shuttle Problem" (a slightly modified version of the "Cab Problem") were utilized to assess subjects' implementation of base-rate information in problems systematically designed to either require or not require a formal Bayesian solution. In Experiment 1, subjects did not incorporate base-rate information into the decision-making process, but only under limited conditions. Specifically, base-rate utilization was related to: the order of information, the base-rate value, the accuracy of the case-specific information, the number of judgements subjects were required to make, and the wording of the question. In Experiments 2 and 3, subjects errantly incorporated base-rate information into the decision-making process. In the latter 2 experiments, base-rate information was non-diagnostic in that it was not relevant to the calculation of correct solutions. Despite this fact, subjects attempted to consistently utilize this information. Result from the latter 2 investigations also suggest that subjects do not work as efficiently with information presented in percentages (base rates) as well as they do whole numbers. The findings of the 3 experiments are related to traditional baserate research findings.

 The Influence of Attentional Bias on the Asymmetrical Processing of Dichotic Inputs in Undergraduates

James F. Iaccino and James Houran

Illinois Benedictine College

Recent studies have shown that a pronounced right-ear advantage (REA) and even a left-ear advantage (LEA) can occur within dichotic tasks when subjects are directed to focus their attention onto a particular ear-side a sufficient number of trials. To examine the effects of attentional bias on laterality more precisely, 96 undergraduates were equally divided by sex and hand dominance. Experimental instructions as to which ear to focus on were provided to subjects, with left-ear attendance altering with right-ear across 2 fairly large counterbalanced blocks of 120 trials each. Analysis indicated that right handers were able to show the predicated ear advantages when given instructions to focus on the respective ear-side. These findings suggest that sustained ear-attendance exerts a powerful influence on right-handers' dichotic performance, and that future studies should continue to examine these attentional bias components to determine which processing strategies are the most beneficial to subjects' recognitions.

Approach/Withdrawal Theory and the Concept of Stimulus Intensity (Complexity)

Gray Greenberg, Timothy McCarthy, & Peter Radell

The Wichita State University

An important contribution of T.C.Schneirla was his Approach/Withdrawal Theory, a major postulate of which relates behavior to stimulus intensity early in an organism's life. Thus, animals approach weak sources of stimuli and withdraw from intense sources. There is, however, a problem associated with defining "stimulus intensity." This paper explores a possible solution by identifying stimulus intensity with stimulus "complexity," an information-theory construct. Gerbils and spiny mice were exposed to more and less complex visual and tactual stimuli to determine whether they would orient differently to them. As predicted by Schnerila's theory, young animals spent more time in the presence of the less complex stimuli, old animals showed no preferences. The results confirm the utility of using complexity as an index of a stimulus' intensity.

 Shuttle Box Avoidance Behavior in Four Species of Fish

David S. Malcom

Fordham University, College at Lincoln Center

The shuttle box avoidance behavior of 4 species of fish was compared under operant level, Pavlovian, avoidance and extinction conditions. As expected the goldfish had the highest levels of responding under both Pavlovian and avoidance conditions with avoidance response rates exceeding those of Pavlovian. The shuttle responding of the other species under all conditions was lower than that of the goldfish. Observation showed a variety of responses occurring which were incompatible with shuttling. The implications of these findings for traditional 2-factor and Bolles' species-specific defense reaction theories of avoidance are discussed.

 The Effect of Sucrose, Low Protein Diet and Parotid Gland Removal on

Food Intake by Pregnant Rats

Valerie J. Folk, Dawn M. Rist and Josephine F. Wilson

Wittenberg University

The effects of sucrose, low protein diet, pregnancy, and parotid gland removal on the food intake of 32 rats were studied, using a 2x2x2x2 design. 16 of the rats underwent bilateral parotidectomies at the start of the study, and all participants received either 2% or 25% soy protein diet ad libitum in addition to either tap water only or tap water and a 10% sucrose solution. Food, water, and sucrose intake and rats' weights were measured daily. Pregnant rats offered 2% protein diet and sucrose did not consume enough food to obtain adequate nutrition during pregnancy. Rats that had their parotid glands removed ate more low protein food than did intact rats. However, significant interactions between (a) surgery and protein; (b) surgery and pregnancy; and (c) surgery, protein and pregnancy complicated the conclusions of the present study.

Developmental Aspects of Self-Evaluation and Social Loafing in Children

James E. Waller

University of Kentucky

The present study was designed to clarify the role which self-evaluation plays in the reduction of social loafing (i.e., the decrease in individual effort which occurs when a person is working in a cooperative group as opposed to working individually) by examining the issue from a developmental perspective. Findings revealed no effects of performance condition or evaluation potential for first graders. Although no effect of performance condition was evident for third graders, the potential for self-evaluation significantly improved performance. Hypothesized main effects of performance condition and evaluation potential for fifth graders were reported, demonstrating that the vast majority of children in this age group have developed the capacity to employ social comparison information in self-evaluation.

 Differences in Nursing Home versus Community-Residing Dementia Patients on the Mini-Mental Status Examination

Carol Ann Harrington-Noble, Taher Zandi and Cheryl Miller

State University of New York at Plattsburgh

Since the manifestation of dementia-related symptoms is context specific and the environment of nursing homes is vastly different than the homes in which other dementia patients are residing, this study compared the cognitive performance of these 2 groups of patients residing in different settings. Dementia patients (N = 40) were administered the Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE). Results of this study indicated that the dementia patients residing in the nursing home had more difficulty in the language axis of the MMSE compared to the dementia patients residing in their homes. These findings suggest that interventions geared toward dementia patients residing in nursing homes should focus treatment plans on language skills.

 Memory Decline in Alzheimer's Patients as a Predictor of Caregivers' Burden

Taher Zandi and Kenna LaPorte

State University of New York at Plattsburgh

Alzheimer's caregiver level of burden is described elsewhere. In this study we conducted an investigation of an explanatory model of Alzheimer's Disease caregiver's burden. Patients and their caregivers (N = 35) were evaluated. Patients' level of dementia as measured with MMSE, BCRS, and FAST was used as a predictor of caregiver's level of burden. Patients' memory decline was found to be the best predictor or caregiver's burden. In light of the findings in this study, efforts should be made to provide opportunities for caregivers to more effectively cope with memory losses of the patients.

The Influence of Indirect Knowledge of Prior Performance on Evaluations of Present Performance: The Generalizability of Assimilation Effects

Richard Buda, Richard R. Reilly and James W. Smither

Texaco Incorporated, Stevens Institute of Technology, and American Telephone & Telegraph Company

Smither, Reilly & Buda (1988) found that, when raters were provided with indirect knowledge of a lecturer's prior performance, ratings of present performance were biased in the direction of prior performance. In the present study, we examined the generalizability of this assimilation effect over different rating formats (graphic and behavioral scales) and rating purposes (research and administrative). Participants (N = 180) reviewed written comments concerning a consultant's prior performance and viewed a videotape of the consultant interacting with business clients. Participants who received good prior performance information provided more favorable ratings than participants who received poor prior performance information regardless of rating format or purpose. Also, participants who received poor prior performance information more frequently recalled poor behavior that had not occurred during the videotape.

 The Influence of Sequence and Ad Length on Ad Recall

Kim St. Cyr, Rosa Moreno, Jennifer Jensen, and Judith G. Foy

Loyola Marymount University

Previous research has demonstrated that consumers have difficulty recalling specific characteristics of brands in similar product categories. The similarities may facilitate an interference effect. It seems that consumers forget stimulus-response (i.e. product category-product name) associations if they learn new response to the same or similar stimuli. It was hypothesized that sequence and ad length would have an impact on ad recall. Participants were randomly assigned to one of 4 conditions in a 2 (same or different) x 2 (8 or 16 seconds) design. Participants recalled significantly more names in the different than in the same product category sequence and they were significantly more accurate in recalling the order of presentation in the same condition. Additionally, names were recalled more frequently when the ads were shown for 16 rather than 8 seconds. The results support the hypothesis that the memorability of the products and product names is dependent on sequence and length of exposure to the ad.

The Effect of Sex-appropriate Task Description on the Tendency to Self-Handicap

Kendell C. Thronton

University of Montana

This experiment examined the influence of sex-typing the experimental task on participants' tendency to self-handicap. Prior to taking an "intelligence test" male and female participants were led to believe either that their sex performed better on the test than the other sex, or the opposite. After completing the test participants received either contingent or non-contingent success feedback. Participants were then asked to select music which was said to be either facilitating or debilitating to intellectual performance, with the understanding that they would listen to the music while taking a test similar to the one they had just completed. After the music selection was made, which served as the measure of self-handicapping participants responded to a series of manipulation checks. Although the manipulation checks indicate that the contingency manipulation and the sex-typing manipulation influenced all of the subjects in precisely the intended manner, subjects who received sex-appropriate task information were not found to engage in behavioral self-handicapping more than participants who received inappropriate task information. Results did not reveal any significant main effects or interaction and are discussed in relation to Shepperd and Arkins (1989) findings on pre-existing handicaps.

Hostility in Type A and Type B Women Who Are Forced To Wait

Katherine Burge-Callaway, Camille Bussotti and Walter A. Pieper

Georgia State University

The present study investigated self-reported levels of hostility and hostile responses to waiting in Type A and Type B women. Participants were classified as Type A (N = 20) or Type B(N = 20) using the Structured Interview. Half of the participants in each group were forced to wait 20 min without explanation of apology (Wait Condition) while the other half of the participants were not required to wait (No Wait Condition). All participants then completed the Interpersonal Behavior Survey (IBS). T-test comparisons revealed that Type A women did not have higher scores on the Hostile Stance or Disregard for Rights subscales of the IBS than Type B women. Furthermore, in 2 X 2 analyses of variance (Type A vs. Type B and Wait vs. No Wait), there were no significant interaction effects between waiting and Type A classification on Hostile Stance or Disregard for Rights. Several factors which could have contributed to these findings are discussed.

The Effects of Information Presentation on Rape Blame

Faith A. Norton and Faye Plascak-Craig

Marian College

Rape trial outcomes often reflect a high level of ambiguity about victim responsibility. The modes of presentation of information about rape crimes may account for some of the ambiguity in blame assignment. Participants (N = 37) were randomly assigned (balancing for sex composition within groups) to one of 3 presentation groups. Group 1 viewed a movie video rape scene; Group 2 viewed a videotaped clip of the movie rape victim before her court appearance plus the movie video rape scene; and Group 3 read a transcribed version of the same movie rape scene. All participants were then administered the Attribution of Rape Blame Scale (ARBS). Results indicated a significant "mode of presentation" effect, with the highest assailant blame scores were reported by Group 2, the "victim plus video scene mode" and the highest assailant blame scores were reported by Group 3, "transcription mode." The hypothesized gender effect and "presentation mode by viewer gender" interaction were not significant. These findings may be important for the redesign of potentially biasing modes of trial information presentation that could result in unwarranted rape victim blame.

 The Relationship Between Occupational Goals and Locus of Control in Male and Female High School Students

Jean M. Low

West Texas State University

This study investigated the relationships between internal locus of control and difficult occupational goals in high school students. Difficult occupational goals were defined as occupational goals requiring lengthy post high school study time for career entry. Male and female senior high school students (N = 93) from a small midwestern city served as participants. The results indicated that internally oriented males aspired to occupations requiring lengthy preparation time. For females no relationships were found between the length of post high school preparation time and internal locus of control. The results are discussed in terms of possible gender differences in what constitutes a "difficult" occupational goal and the possibility that high internally oriented women may be investing their energies in family issues rather than occupational issues.

Generalized Attraction: How Non-specific is the Arousal?

Sherry A. Jeter, Melanie P. Swick, and Roy H. Smith

Mary Washington College

This experiment, based on previous attribution studies, supports the ides that initial interpersonal attraction is a function of generalized, non-specific physiological arousal. Participants received either a strongly aversive or a non-arousing stimulus during simultaneous direct physiological recording. Attractiveness ratings of opposite-sex pictures differed significantly between conditions, matching measures of physiological arousal. These results support the theory that arousal leading to attraction is quiet general, including aversive sources.

Is the Pygmalion Effect Still Occurring in the 1990's?

Michelle Poynter and Faye D. Plascak-Craig

Marian College

36 undergraduate education majors were asked to evaluate essays actually written by fourth grade students. Essays were presented to participants with fictitious writer background data. The "data", factorially presented, were the 3 independent variables, in a 2 x 2 x 2 design: (a) achievement expectation (high vs. low English standardized achievement test percentiles); (b) sex of writer (male vs. female); and (c) first name of writer (common vs. uncommon). All of the essays, pre-assessed as "C" work by experienced teachers, and "data" were typewritten to avoid handwriting effects. The dependent measures were the grades assigned to the essays by the college education majors. Repeated measures ANOVA tested for grade criterion contamination, sex bias, and name bias. The "achievement expectation" main effect was significant: The Pygmalion effect occurred. There were 3 significant interaction, "achievement expectation x name", "name x writer sex," and "achievement expectation x writer sex name." High achievement percentiles produced higher grades for writers with uncommon names, but low achievers with common names were rated higher, an "intellectual effect." Sex differences produced a positive "male intellectual" bias: Male writers with uncommon names were rated higher than were those by males with common names, but for females, the reverse name effect occurred. For the 3 way interaction, essays by male high achievers with uncommon names or by high achiever females. With low achievers, the first name had little effect on male writers' ratings, but low achiever female writers with common names were rated highest (i.e., a "low achieving female stereotype" effect). Findings supported 4 sources of bias that inflated grading by this sample of education majors: achievement expectation (the Pygmalion effect), an "intellectual stereotype" effect, a "male intellectual stereotype" effect, and a "low achieving female stereotype" effect. Future teachers need to be made aware of the powerful factors that reduce assessment validity in the classroom.

The Relationship Among Attitudes Towards People With AIDS: Perceptions of Justice and Health Care Locus of Control

Virginia A. Murphy-Berman and John J. Berman

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Despite widespread information about AIDS, negative attitudes towards people with AIDS is still prevalent. While previous research had investigated how these negative attitudes are related to various demographic variables, this research looked at how they are related to general beliefs about a just world, whether one prefers to distribute resources on the basis of merit or need, one's belief that their health is internally or externally controlled, as well as various demographic and health variables. Undergraduate psychology majors (N = 144) responded to a questionnaire in which these dimensions were measured. Multiple regression analyses showed that the most negative attitudes towards AIDS victims were found among respondents who had a strong belief in a just world, who had more negative attitudes toward allocating resources on the basis of need, who were external in health locus of control beliefs, and who were male.

Value Orientations in Canadian University Undergraduates

Judi Remigio and Stewart Page

University of Windsor

Undergraduate students (N = 398) were surveyed regarding current personal, social and academic values, with special reference to the university environment. Their general orientation was one of alienation from "traditional" academic. Job preparation was seen as the predominant reason for university attendance. Students perceived their mood, as well as that of undergraduates in general, as negative. Changes in physical plant and resources, rather than in academic matters, were viewed as the most needed changes in universities today. Parents were seen as having a more positive view toward university life, compared to that of students. University faculty were seen as socially distant, yet as having materialistic values congruent with those of students. No differences in response patterns were found according to student gender or year in university. Some comments are offered in light of recent concerns with student motivation and value conflicts in the university environment.