Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

G. R. Pascal

Committee Members

W. O. Jenkins, R. R. Schrader, M. H. Moore, W. E. Cole


Introduction: The present investigation was designed to study the interaction of two experimentally established parameters of a habit; partial reinforcement and stimulus generalization. Studies concerning the effects of partial reinforcement have occupied a prominent place in the psychological literature since Skinner's (1938) first major treatment of schedules of reinforcement. Numerous stimulus generalization experiments have been reported since Pavlov's (1927) recognition of the generalization phenomenon. The present study explored the effects of applying the partial reinforcement parameter in conditioning and the stimulus generalization variable in extinction. More specifically, groups of human subjects were conditioned to a verbal response under different schedules of reinforcement, and the response was extinguished under different degrees of stimulus generalization.

This problem evolved from two separate sources; the laboratory and the clinic. The principle of stimulus generalization is of central importance in the understanding of gross human behavior and is an important concept in Pascal's (1956) theory of behavioral change. A number of the parameters of stimulus generalization have been explored by Pascal, Jenkins and their students. Bueno (1955) and Walker (1956) have studied some of the variables which seem to influence the extent of generalization of a habit. Partial reinforcement is believed to be an additional important parameter of generalization, and this study can be considered a part of an experimental program.

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