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ERIC Number: EJ878716
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Mar
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 20
ISSN: ISSN-0022-5002
Revisiting the Role of Bad News in Maintaining Human Observing Behavior
Fantino, Edmund; Silberberg, Alan
Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, v93 n2 p157-170 Mar 2010
Results from studies of observing responses have suggested that stimuli maintain observing owing to their special relationship to primary reinforcement (the conditioned- reinforcement hypothesis), and not because they predict the availability and nonavailability of reinforcement (the information hypothesis). The present article first reviews a study that challenges that conclusion and then reports a series of five brief experiments that provide further support for the conditioned-reinforcement view. In Experiments 1 through 3, participants preferred occasional good news (a stimulus correlated with reinforcement) or no news (a stimulus uncorrelated with reinforcement) to occasional bad news (a stimulus negatively correlated with reinforcement). In Experiment 4 bad news was preferred to no news when the absence of stimulus change following a response to the bad-news option was reliably associated with good news. When this association was weakened in Experiment 5 the results were intermediate. The results support the conclusion that information is reinforcing only when it is positive or useful. As required by the conditioned-reinforcement hypothesis, useless information does not maintain observing. (Contains 1 figure and 5 tables.)
Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. Available from: Indiana University Department of Psychology. Bloomington, IN 47405-1301. Tel: 812-334-0395; FAX: 812-855-4691; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: District of Columbia