Chapter 14: Classic Single-n Experiments

Chapter 14

There are several classic single-n and small-n experiments you could assign. Watson’s“ Little Albert” experiment is available at

 

http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Watson/emotion.htm

 

A less controversial—and more data-oriented— study would be Mary Cover Jones’ class “Infant Peter study” available at

 

http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Jones/

 

 You might assign students Skinner’s small-n experiment described on page 481 of Research design explained. The complete article is online at

http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Skinner/Pigeon/

 

Students will not have trouble with the results of Skinner’s (1948) study: There are no statistics. However, the vocabulary may challenge some students. Therefore, you may want to hand out the glossary below.


 

 

Table 1. Glossary for helping you understand Skinner’s  (1948) classic article on superstition

Term

Rough Translation or Example

contingent

dependent

Mechanical connection

Example: After you press a button on a coke machine, the machine gives you a can of coke.

Mediation of another organism

Example: After you ask for a coke, a friend brings you a coke.

the temporal relation

The timing of the reinforcement

solenoid

electrical device

adaptation

Getting used to

the intervening interval

The time between reinforcements

magazine

a container that holds food

intervening responses emitted

Behaviors produced between reinforcements

drift in topography

Gradual change in the way the behavior was performed.

predominant

main

tambour

round stage (like the top of a snare drum)

temporal discrimination

Behaving differently depending on how much time had passed (after getting the reinforcement)

elapsed

passed

extinction

Previously reinforced behavior ending because reinforcement stopped.

‘extinction’

Behavior ending because of lack of reinforcement—even  though the original response was not really reinforced.

periodic presentation

In this case, presenting every 15 seconds

horizontal

Flat (indicating no superstitious behavior)

positive acceleration

rapidly increasing

prevailed

Was most common, typical

causal

Cause-effect (the behavior triggered the reinforcement)

suffice

Are enough

Induction from

following from

Discriminative stimulus

Cue that, when present, indicates that a certain response will be rewarded (e.g., a green traffic light means the driver can go).

locus

place

correlations

pairings

 

 


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