The effects of immediate versus delayed reinforcement on infant operant learning

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor's Name

Jacob L. Gewirtz

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Michael Markham

Third Advisor's Name

Marilyn Montgomery

Fourth Advisor's Name

Maricel Cigales

Date of Defense



Two experiments examined operant leg kick responses to a panel by six 3-month-old infants under baseline, immediate reinforcement, delayed reinforcement, and yoked-control conditions using a discrete trial procedure and a single-subject repeated-measures design. Two infants participated in the first experiment and four infants participated in the second experiment. The research design of Experiment I was baseline (A), 5s delay of reinforcement (C), yoked-control (A'), and immediate reinforcement (B). There were two experimental orders in the second experiment. The first order consisted of baseline (A), immediate reinforcement (B), yoked-control (A'), and 5s delay of reinforcement (C). The second order consisted of baseline (A), 5s delayed reinforcement (C), yoked-control (A'), and immediate reinforcement (B). The reinforcer was a combination of multicolored holiday lights and music, and a moving hand puppet. Changes in experimental phases were based on the attainment of learning and stability criteria. With the exception of one infant, leg kicks to a to a panel were learned under both immediate and 5s delay of reinforcement conditions, with learning appearing to be attained more rapidly under immediate reinforcement.



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