This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Effects of Rule-Following on Schedule Performance with Synchronous Schedules of Reinforcement




Sheridan, Daniel

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Psychological Sciences

Restriction Status


Restriction Type


Date Available



Investigating the effects of rules on schedule performance when access to a reinforcer covaries with a target response may increase our understanding of complex patterns of behavior that occur under continuously changing circumstances. The purpose of the current study was to replicate and extend previous research by examining how the presence or absence of rules influenced speed (MPS) on a treadmill using a synchronous schedule of reinforcement. First, participants (N =30) were randomly assigned to one of three groups: accurate rule, inaccurate rules, or no rules. Next, we identified each participant’s music genre preference prior to the treadmill condition. The treadmill condition consisted of five components: baseline, synchronous 1 (SYNC1), synchronous 2 (SYNC2), synchronous 3 (SYNC3), and extinction (EXT). Rules regarding the three SYNC conditions varied based on group assignment. The results show (a) the accurate rules group had the highest level of schedule-control responding across the three SYNC components, (b) the inaccurate rules group tended to demonstrate persistent rule-following, (c) the no rules group had little variability in speed (MPS) across all the treadmill components, and (d) no significant between-group differences in extinction-induced responding. Overall, the outcomes from this novel preparation provide first-steps toward examining the effects of rules on behavior with synchronous schedules of reinforcement. Recommended areas for future research are discussed.