ERIC Number: ED204009
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Apr
Reference Count: 0
Social Contingencies in the Physical Environments and Prosocial Behaviour in Children's Play.
Partridge, Mary Janice; And Others
This study tested the hypothesis that the frequency of prosocial behavior of six 5-year-old kindergarten boys could be increased by reinforcing such behavior more powerfully than competing, non-social behavior. A sand-play machine was designed for the study. The machine could be modified to structure contingencies of reinforcement for social behaviors in three ways. In the baseline condition prosocial and non-social behaviors were reinforced equally. In the second, or "hard-contingency" condition, interaction with the machine was only possible if prosocial behavior occurred; therefore, only prosocial behavior was reinforced. In the third, or "soft-contingency" condition, both non-social and prosocial behaviors were reinforced, but reinforcement of prosocial behavior was delivered more powerfully. Players were randomly assigned to dyads which remained the same throughout the study. The experiment was conducted in 24 sessions distributed over six weeks. All sessions were videotaped and subsequently blind coded. The following dependent variables were measured: (1) filling sand into one's own part of the machine; (2) filling sand into the partner's part of the machine; (3) cranking the machine; (4) requesting a fill from the partner; and (5) contracting for mutual fills. Behavior frequencies were recorded for dyad totals, rather than for individuals. Results confirmed the original hypothesis and also indicated that changes in those physical features of the play environment that alter the structure of social contingencies between players produce measurable effects on social behavior. (Author/RH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Canada; Soft Contingency Network
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Los Angeles, CA, April 13-17, 1981).