RULE-GOVERNED BEHAVIORS – DO EXTERNAL OR INTERNAL VARIABLES DEFINE THEM?
Keywords:rule governed behavior, instructions, reinforcement, punishment, context, conformity, leaving the rule
The main goal of this research was to examine the effects of external variables (type of instruction, change in context, order of stimulus exposure) and internal variable (conformity) on rule-governed behavior and on reaction time in an experimental task. Three types of instructions were used in this research: those that contain a reward, positive punishment, or negative punishment. The experiment was designed in a way that, in the first phase, the rule was functional (led to points achievement), while in the second phase without announcing the change of context, the rule became dysfunctional, The results showed that change in the context, content of the instruction, and the conformity level may increase or reduce the probability of rule following. Changing the context in which the rule is no longer functional, increased significantly the likelihood of leaving the rule. The reward information within the instruction also increased the likelihood of leaving the dysfunctional rule. A more pronounced conformity, on the other hand, reduced the probability of leaving the rule. Furthermore, the results showed that there were significant double interactions of variables in the prediction of rule following. The highest logistic regression coefficients were obtained for the context and type of instruction interaction while the logistic regression coefficients were lower for the interaction of conformity and the type of instruction, as well as the context and conformity interaction. The triple interactions between internal and external variables in the prediction of rule following were also statistically significant. External variables had an effect on the reaction time, while the internal variable did not. Changes in the context, as well as the information about positive punishment, led to prolonging the reaction time, while order of stimulus exposure led to its shortening.
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