Date of Award

Spring 2016

Degree Type

Honors Project

School

College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Matthew Olson

Abstract

Non-contingent reinforcement is random and non-informative feedback. Berglas and Jones (1978) first reported that non-contingent reinforcement leads to self-handicapping in adult males. Self-handicapping can be described as a premeditated adaptive behavior that protects against negative attributions to the self after failure. The purpose of this study is to explore whether or not the same effect will be found in children of both sexes. Participants (children in first and second grade) received contingent (informative) or non-contingent (non-informative) reinforcement while playing the children’s game “I Never Forget a Face.” Children were given the opportunity to self-handicap immediately after reinforcement. After the opportunity to self-handicap, the children then played a more difficult game (“Shoot the Moon”) and their efforts with the second game were recorded. Data did not support the hypotheses but trends were in the predicted direction.

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