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Self-reinforcement in the elderly as a function of feedback and modeling

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Title:Self-reinforcement in the elderly as a function of feedback and modeling
Authors:Weiner, Howard R.
Keywords:Older people -- Psychology
Reinforcement (Psychology)
Feedback (Psychology)
Date Issued:1976
Abstract:The major purpose of this study was to investigate two antecedent variables that might serve to facilitate self-reinforcement in older adults. Self-reinforcement has been viewed as a possible therapeutic technique for those elderly whose environments are deficient in sources of external reinforcement as compared to younger persons. Specifically, this experiment was designed to test the effects of systematically varied levels of feedback and modeling on the subsequent self-reinforcing behavior of a group of persons aged 65 and older. The sample was composed of 180 persons, 96 women and 84 men, whose mean age was 71.5 years. The subjects were of multi-ethnic origins, diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, and all were in good health. The subjects were divided by sex and randomly assigned to 9ne of two modeling conditions (exposure to a model who self-reinforced or did not), and one of three feedback conditions (high positive, low positive, or no feedback). Half the subjects were exposed to a short videotape in which an elderly female model vigorously selfreinforc3d for achievement at an experimental task, while half the subjects saw the same model perform without self-reward. For the feedback variable, one third of the subjects received feedback, via a light/chime apparatus, that 95% of their answers were correct at an ambiguous discrimination task, a third received feedback that they were correct on 45% of the trials, while a third received no information about their performance. The modeling and feedback conditions were presented in counterbalanced order. The final phase of the study involved a matching-to- sample task in which subjects could self-reinforce for self-perceived correct responding. The dependent measures were: (a) the number of self-reinforcing responses emitted over blocks of trials, and (b) the number of trials in which self-reinforcement occurred. In addition, measures of self-esteem were taken before and after the experimental manipulations. The results showed that those subjects who had observed a self-reinforcing model emitted significantly more self-reinforcers and self-reinforced on significantly more trials than did the group who had viewed the non self-reinforcing model. Over blocks of trials there were significant increases in the number of self-rewards. However, this increase was accounted for by the subjects in the Modeled Self-Reinforcement Condition. The number of self-reinforcers emitted was found to be a function of ethnicity. Subjects of Chinese and Japanese ancestry self-rewarded significantly more than did subjects of European ancestry in the Modeled Self-Reinforcement Condition, while members of these three ethnic groups did not differ from each other in the No Modeled Self-Reinforcement Condition. Overall, Chinese-American subjects self-reinforced more than did Japanese- or European-Americans. There were no differences in number of reinforcers self-awarded among the feedback groups. However, those in the Low Positive Feedback Group self-reinforced on significantly fewer trials than did those who received no feedback. Self-reinforcement did not vary as a function of sex of subject, nor of order of presentation of the modeling and feedback variables. Self-esteem levels of the subjects were not related to self-reinforcement rates, nor did the experimental manipulations affect prior self-esteem. Several significant correlation coefficients were obtained between demographic variables and dependent measures. It was concluded that self-reinforcement appears to be a feasible and potentially useful technique for the amelioration of environmental factors which reduce wellbeing in the elderly. Moreover, modeling processes were demonstrated as an effective method for the transmission of patterns of self-reinforcement in older adults.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1976.
Bibliography: leaves [111]-123.
vi, 123 leaves ill
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Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Psychology

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