Effects of Different Incentive Distribution Methods on Work Performance and Satisfaction in Small Groups: a Simulation Study

Abstract

This study examined the relative effects of different monetary incentive distribution methods on work performance and satisfaction in small groups. Three types of incentive plans were compared: individual incentives, equally distributed group incentives (EG), and differentially distributed group incentives (DG). Four participants performed a simulated work task for 21 four-hour sessions. An alternating treatment design was adopted, and three experimental conditions randomly alternated for each session. The main dependent variables were the number of correctly completed work tasks and amount of off-task time. Results indicated that performance under DG was higher than that of EG and the individual incentives condition. However, the EG and individual incentive conditions had the similar levels of performance. The amount of off-task time was higher in the EG condition than in the other two conditions. In addition, the error rates did not differ across the three incentive conditions, whereas satisfaction and fairness ratings were the highest for individual incentives. Finally, implications for researchers and practitioners, along with limitations of the study, are discussed.


Sun, 7 Oct 2018, 5:00 pm


Reversing Time and Size: Mutual Entailment of Nonarbitrary Temporal and Magnitude Relational Responding

Abstract

Responding to temporal relational statements that include the original events (e.g., A. .. B) in a reversed order (e.g., “B after A”) is less accurate and more time-consuming than responding to such statements when they retain the original order of presentation (e.g., “A before B”). The current study assessed whether this effect was limited to temporal relational responding by estimating the effect of reversal on magnitude statements (e.g., “B bigger than A”) as well as temporal statements. Participants (N = 40) completed temporal and magnitude relational judgement tasks in blocks consisting of a training phase and a testing phase. The order of relational tasks was counterbalanced across participants; participants learned the second type of relational task faster than the first. During testing, reversal of the order of stimuli in both temporal and magnitude relations reduced accuracy and increased response latencies suggesting that the reversal effect was not limited to temporal relations. The findings support the position that a general relational effect, such as mutual entailment, may underlie the increased difficulty of reversed temporal relational statements.


Wed, 3 Oct 2018, 5:00 pm


Individual Consistencies as Interactive Styles under Decision and Ambiguity Contingencies

Abstract

Mainstream study of individual differences, including so-called personality, are based on responses to items and scores in tests that are not directly descriptive or predictive of actual behaviors in real-time situations. A behavioral account of individual differences should deal with the idiosyncratic consistencies of individuals´ behavior that make every individual different to others in the way in which interact with situational events. An alternative methodology is presented to study individual consistencies as interactive styles. Styles are conceived as idiosyncratic profiles that characterize individuals interacting with gradients defining situational contingencies. Two experimental studies were carried out to find individual consistencies in two different situations: decision and ambiguity contingencies. Six college students participated in two studies exploring individual consistencies in each of the two contingency situations. They were exposed to four different computer tasks, of which two corresponded to each contingency situation. One of the tasks in each situation was presented twice, within a 1-month interval. All participants performed differently in both contingency situations but showed within-subject consistent functional profiles as depicted by 8-degree polynomial regression analyses. Findings support the possibility of identifying individual consistencies across time and across situations in real-time performances.


Wed, 19 Sep 2018, 5:00 pm


Effect of Response Effort on Choice Behavior of Pigeons in Reinforcement Schedules Manipulating Distance between Operanda

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that choice behavior in pigeons is systematically affected by the response effort, such as force or locomotion between response keys, as well as a delay in reinforcement or the amount of reinforcement. The present study aimed to investigate choice behavior in reinforcement schedules in which distance between operanda was manipulated as a response effort from the point of view of generalized matching law. To do so, a distance schedule was developed to manipulate the distance between response keys. In this schedule, pigeons were required to produce either 4 or 10 responses. Interresponse distances, a measure of the distance as a response effort, were calculated by summing the distances between the locations of successive responses. The present study employed a concurrent-chain design in which variable-interval schedules and distance schedules formed the initial and terminal links, respectively, of the concurrent chain. The results showed a matching relation between the initial-links response ratio and the interresponse distance ratio in a condition where 10 responses were required in terminal-links, but not in the condition with 4 responses. This implies that response effort is an important factor in determining choice behavior, as well as other factors including rate or amount of reinforcement or delay in reinforcement. However, the present results could be confounded by the effects of the elapsed time before reinforcement. Thus, further research will be needed using a modified version of the present distance-choice procedure to isolate the effect of distance itself.


Sun, 16 Sep 2018, 5:00 pm


The Function Acquisition Speed Test (FAST) as a Measure of Verbal Stimulus Relations in the Context of Condom Use

Abstract

The Function Acquisition Speed Test (FAST) has shown recent evidence as an effective tool for the quantification of stimulus relatedness. The current study assessed the potential of the FAST in measuring the effects of the presentation of positively or negatively valenced messages on relatedness between stimulus relations with regard to safe-sex behavior, namely condom use. Fifty-one participants were assigned to one of three conditions comprised of valenced message interventions regarding the impact of condom use on the enjoyment of sexual behavior (each condition n = 17): a positive-message condition, a negative-message condition, or a no-message control condition. A significant Strength of Relation (SoR) score was found across positive and negative FAST test trials in the positive-message condition only, with no significant differences in SoR scores observed for either the Negative-message or Control conditions. These data suggest that the FAST may have utility as a sensitive behavioral tool for measuring changes in stimulus relations concerning safe-sex behavior on the basis of brief message interventions.


Tue, 11 Sep 2018, 5:00 pm


Conditioned Reinforcement: the Effectiveness of Stimulus—Stimulus Pairing and Operant Discrimination Procedures

Abstract

The purpose of the present experiment was to evaluate which method, stimulus–stimulus pairing or operant discrimination training, establishes neutral stimuli as more effective conditioned reinforcers, and to explore ways to maintain effects of the stimuli established as conditioned reinforcers. Four rats were exposed to an operant discrimination training procedure to establish a left-situated light as a conditioned reinforcer and to a stimulus–stimulus pairing procedure to establish a right-situated light as a conditioned reinforcer. Acquisition of new responses was then arranged to determine how formerly neutral stimuli could maintain responding when the unconditioned reinforcer (water) was presented intermittently in an experimental design similar to a concurrent-chain procedure. During this acquisition, two levers were concurrently available and presses on the left lever produced an operant discrimination trial (left light–response–water), whereas presses on the right lever produced a stimulus–stimulus pairing trial (right light–water). The results suggest that the operant discrimination training procedure was more effective in establishing a neutral stimulus as a conditioned reinforcer and also maintained a higher rate of responding over time.


Tue, 11 Sep 2018, 5:00 pm


Effects of Reciprocity Induction on Partial-Altruistic and Unequal-Asymmetric Labor Exchange Interactions

Abstract

An experiment evaluated the effects of reciprocal behavior of a confederate on the behavior of a participant under concurrent individual and shared contingencies. The experimental situation consisted of solving a puzzle on two synchronized computer screens. Sixteen female and male university students were assigned to the same number of dyads, in which the other member was a confederate. They were divided into four groups of four dyads each. Groups 1 and 3 were exposed to an ascending percentage of reciprocal behavior by the confederate (0, 50, and 100%) whereas groups 2 and 4 were exposed to a descending percentage (100, 50, and 0%). All groups were exposed to two shared contingency situations: partial altruism, in which no points or tokens were provided, and unequal, and asymmetric labor exchange, in which different amounts of valuables were exchanged for earned points. Groups 1 and 2 were first exposed to the partial altruism situation whereas groups 3 and 4 were first exposed to the labor exchange situation. Results show that participants in all groups matched the reciprocal behavior of confederates, resulting in partial altruism during percentages larger than 0 in both conditions, with and without points and earnings. These results confirm previous findings suggesting that reciprocity is a function of the behavior of at least one of the members of the dyad. Results are also discussed in relation to the functional relevance for the occurrence of cultural and economic interactions.


Tue, 11 Sep 2018, 5:00 pm


Social Context in a Collective IRAP Application about Gender Stereotypes: Mixed Versus Single Gender Groups

Abstract

The IRAP (Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure) is a procedure developed for the assessment of beliefs, attitudes, and other implicit cognitive elements. Stimuli-related variables that influence IRAP performance have been studied, but not the influence of social situation variables of the test itself. Gender stereotypes are one of the implicit beliefs most studied with the IRAP. Gender bias relational responses may be brought under the functional control of situational social variables, such as responding in a mixed gender group or responding in a single gender group (women only/men only). One hundred and ten undergraduates (65 women and 45 men; aged 18–22) performed a collective IRAP application about gender stereotypes. In the first experimental condition, the test was applied in mixed gender groups. In the second experimental condition, the test was applied in single gender groups. The results showed that gender stereotypes were present in men’s and women’s responses to the IRAP. Both male and female participants showed greater gender bias when responding in single gender groups than in mixed gender groups in all the IRAP trial types. The social context in which IRAP was applied influenced the participant's performance. The advantages of collective IRAP applications are also discussed.


Tue, 11 Sep 2018, 5:00 pm



Once More, with Feeling: the Role of Familiarity in the Aesthetic Response

Abstract

This article argues that familiarity is an important ingredient of the aesthetic brew, potentially more important than the tinge of surprise. Most of the examples are drawn from the psychology of music, pointing at people’s preferences for music from their youth, strong correlations between familiarity and liking of musical excerpts, the Caillebotte effect in preferences for paintings, and neuroimaging work on the role of anticipation in the experience of musical chills. In addition, I refer to the value of incremental work in creators, and the influence of prototypicality and self-relevance for the aesthetic response. Surprise/complexity/originality/expectation violations play a role too, but their influence needs to be carefully Goldilocked: There is an inverse-J-shaped relationship between originality and liking, and, within music, liking is associated with proximity to pink noise. Finally, there is evidence that different aspects of musical events lead to different responses, illustrating that the aesthetic brew is a complicated mix.


Fri, 31 Aug 2018, 5:00 pm


Challenge of the Ineffable: Concerning Mechner’s “a Behavioral and Biological Analysis of Aesthetics”

Abstract

Meticulously organized and comprehensive as it is, Mechner’s account doesn’t quite capture the quicksilverish nature of aesthetic events and reactions. He is not alone in this, for the grammatical constraints of language are often mismatched with behavioral/psychological phenomena. A possible solution here would be to invoke adverbial forms when aesthetic reactions do not reach the threshold of overt expression: thus, one might listen serenely, watch excitedly, run fluently. Consistent with other traditions, Mechner invokes “expectation” in addressing the aesthetic interplay between pattern and variation. However, expectation suggests a role of awareness that in many cases is inapplicable. Thus, the term, “complex invariance,” may provide a better way to address this issue. Like Mechner’s article, complex invariance applies in a broad range of domains, including behavioral arrangements and the products of workmanship as well as explicitly artistic endeavors.


Fri, 31 Aug 2018, 5:00 pm


A Functional Analysis of “Aesthetic”: A Commentary on Mechner

Abstract

In his target article, Mechner provides a bio-behavioral analysis of effects called “aesthetic.” He then examines hundreds of such effects across a wide range of literary, artistic, and scientific disciplines and concludes that they consist of a composite of elements that produce what he calls “surprise-tinged” emotional responses in individuals with an appropriate learning history. In my commentary, I first suggest an operational, or functional, analysis of some of the terms Mechner uses in his analysis, including “surprise, “familiar,” and “priming.” I then provide a brief functional analysis of stimuli we call “aesthetic,” “artistic,” or “beautiful.” In so doing, I use my own history with music and as a musician to address two general questions about behavior we call “aesthetic”: what kinds of responses occur and under what circumstances, and what kinds of learning histories might be responsible for them? Although I identify some problems with Mechner’s interpretation, for example, that he introduces several vague concepts and often opts for explanations that are circular and that do not identify basic behavioral principles, in general I commend him for tackling such a complex topic in such a thorough and thoughtful manner.


Fri, 31 Aug 2018, 5:00 pm


A Behavioral Interpretation of Aesthetics

Abstract

A behavioral interpretation of aesthetics will doubtless require a series of successive approximations to reach a wholly satisfactory formulation. The present article is an attempt to refine part of Mechner’s analysis using a more restrictive vocabulary, that of terms that have emerged from the behavioral laboratory. Given the magnitude of the task, the present proposal is confined to aesthetics in literature. Examples and nonexamples are offered to support the proposal that aesthetics in literature entails multiple stimulus control that evokes large jumps in the strength of incipient behavior. This leads in turn to an efflorescence of discriminative and elicited responding that characterizes the subjective aesthetic experience. The terms of this interpretation are taken as partial behavioral translations of Mechner’s concepts of synthetic brew, priming, transformation, and surprise.


Fri, 31 Aug 2018, 5:00 pm


Science Shapes the Beautiful: Shaping Moment-to-Moment Aesthetic Behavior

Abstract

Mechner’s advocacy of interrelating beauty, music, and behavior reunites themes from the earliest stages of the development of behavior analysis. This reunification occurs after a long hiatus during which molar behaviorism emphasized averaging over moment-to-moment behaving and deemphasized moment-to-moment behaving itself. Molar behaviorism cannot meaningfully address many of the musical themes Mechner analyses. Interpretations of musical behaving and other complex behaviors like volition in terms of average behavior encourages focusing on steady-state behavior and discourages focusing on shaping. The resulting problem is clear if we remember that we do not hear molar (average) musical behavior, so to examine the aesthetic qualities of molar musical behavior is conceptually impossible. The solution is to develop more powerful and more general shaping methods for moment-to-moment musical performance.


Fri, 31 Aug 2018, 5:00 pm


A Ludic Appreciation of Mechner’s Aesthetics

Abstract

We can imagine many of our emotions in our family pet: hunger, fear, anger, lust, and even the bonding that we call love. But not the appreciation of a sunset, sonnet, musical passage, or good joke. Mechner takes on the gamut of such aesthetic appreciations, removed from the urgency of the primal ones, and gives us the first thorough attempt at a behavioral explication. Because he has been so thorough and apt, my commentary can add little value to his thesis, only subtract from it. Therefore, rather than critique, I exemplify, and then simplify. By reducing his voluminous report to two lines: a theorem and an equation, I thereby encapsulate aesthetics in a sweet pill of spire. Aesthetic appreciation of this note may require a willing suspension of disbelief.


Fri, 31 Aug 2018, 5:00 pm


A Technology of Aesthetic Appreciation: Tweaking the Reinforcing Potency of Synergetic Events

Abstract

Despite an extensive history of serviceable analyses of behavior–environment conditions arranged by artists to elicit aesthetic experience, unforeseen transformational effects controlling aesthetic responses are often relegated to an unknowable dimension of mind or spirit. Francis Mechner demystifies aesthetic effects by describing their plausible relations to distal events in phylogeny and ontogeny in accord with principles of an experimentally derived, general process theory of behavior. In identifying a blending of temporally extended concept repertoires as the key generic component of aesthetic effects, Mechner’s approach provides a potential educational or treatment goal for individuals limited in aesthetic experience. The synergetic brews that might otherwise evoke a confluence of repertoires may not have sufficient positive reinforcing potency to ensure the requisite emission of the behaviors that produce them. Moreover, dynamically combinatorial events might even become aversive when acts are differentially punished in their presence. By creating operant chains in which the production, attendance to, or interaction with synergetic stimuli become a differential context of positive reinforcement, the frequency of occurrence of aesthetic appreciation might be multiplied.


Fri, 31 Aug 2018, 5:00 pm


Behavioral Functions of Aesthetics: Science and Art, Reason, and Emotion

Abstract

In his landmark article for this journal, Francis Mechner (2017) presents a novel analysis of the confluence of unique combinations of variables accounting for aesthetic experiences, a phenomenon he calls synergetics. He proposes that artists, musicians, and writers use novel devices to capitalize on those effects. In my response to Mechner's fascinating article, I question the generality of such synergetic experiences to a wide array of audience members. I also question whether the evolutionary basis for aesthetic creativity accounts for the ubiquity of aesthetic activity, as Mechner suggests. I do share `Mechner’s emphasis on the importance of culturally nesting aesthetic contributions. But I suggest understanding aesthetic activities across cultures and subcultures requires additional mechanisms serving important bridging functions. I explore dispositional analysis, drawing on both Wittgenstein’s aesthetic language games and derived stimulus relationships. The behavioral functions of aesthetic experiences are those playing roles in cultural contingencies: motivational events, antecedent stimulus events, and consequences of aesthetic activities. Two kinds of aesthetic responses are discussed: 1) aesthetic creative responses by artists, writers or musicians, and 2) responses of audience members to those creations. These resulting aesthetic stimuli may play critical roles in cultural metacontingencies.


Fri, 31 Aug 2018, 5:00 pm


Mechner’s Reply to the Commentaries on His Article, “A Behavioral and Biological Analysis of Aesthetics”

Abstract

The commentaries prompted my realization that it is more useful to view the core of the aesthetic reaction as composed of a set of Pavlovian respondents than as a quasi-emotional reaction. They also increased my confidence in the generality of my conclusion, based in part on my analysis of hundreds of instances, that aesthetic reactions (as well as many other types of affective reactions) are elicited by the conjunction of (a) synergetic (unusual and transformative) interactions among stimuli, (b) the behavioral history and current state of the reacting individual, and (c) circumstantial features of the prevailing situation, including social and cultural factors. Aesthetic reactions can never be predicted or explained based on stimulus properties only. An important mechanism by which originally neutral stimuli acquire the power to elicit aesthetic reactions is Pavlovian pairing, often early in life, with stimuli that already possessed eliciting functions. The commentaries support my contention that a full understanding of the behavioral and biological aspects of aesthetic reactions requires a phylogenetic analysis of their evolutionary origins. Such an analysis suggests that the development of aesthetic sensibility is an important milestone in human evolution. The reinforcing properties of aesthetic reactions are key to the maintenance of such cognitive competencies as language and the manipulation of concepts, learning and inquiry skills, mentalization skills like visualizing and other types of thinking, various social skills, and cultural cohesion. The domain of aesthetic reinforcers extends beyond the arts to the quality of artifacts like tools, implements, or vehicles, certain types of interpersonal activity, and displays of competency. All of these reinforcer categories have biological utilities that account for the selection, throughout evolution, of individuals who were susceptible to those reinforcers’ effects. Also discussed are implications for therapy and education.


Fri, 31 Aug 2018, 5:00 pm


A Behavioral and Biological Analysis of Aesthetics: Implications for Research and Applications

Abstract

Seeking to identify the common and distinguishing attributes of effects one might call “aesthetic,” I examined hundreds of examples in music, visual arts, poetry, literature, humor, performance arts, architecture, science, mathematics, games, and other disciplines. I observed that all involve quasi-emotional reactions to stimuli that are composites of multiple elements that ordinarily do not occur together and whose interaction, when appropriately potentiated, is transformative—different in kind from the effects of the separate constituent elements. Such effects, termed synergetic, can evoke surprise-tinged emotional responses. Aesthetic reactions, unlike many other kinds of emotional reactions, are never evoked by biologically urgent action-demanding events, such as threats or opportunities. The examined effects were created by various concept manipulation devices: class expansion, identification of new relations, repetition, symmetry, parsimony, and emotional displays for the audience to mirror (I identified a total of 16 such devices). The effects would occur only for individuals with the necessary priming, in circumstances that include effective potentiating factors. Synergetic stimuli that evoke aesthetic responses tend to be reinforcing, via mechanisms related to their biological utility during our evolution. I offer a theory as to how aesthetics may have evolved from its primordial pre-aesthetic roots, with examples of how consideration of those roots often explains aesthetic and related effects. The article suggests that aesthetic phenomena are a special case of a more pervasive aspect of behavior and proposes research approaches involving laboratory models and fMRI technology.


Fri, 31 Aug 2018, 5:00 pm


What Influences Audience Response to Figure Painting?

Abstract

According to Mechner (2017), the aesthetic response is characterized by a “surprise-tinged” emotion that has no immediate function and tends to be reinforcing, and is influenced by the social context and priming history of the respondent. Consistent with Mechner’s views, I illustrate how cultural and individual factors affect the aesthetic response using examples of realistic figure paintings of American artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. Cultural factors such as established values, publicity, and market price influence the reaction of many people in similar ways. Individual factors such as knowledge of the subject, resonance to character, emotional history, and exposure to elements of composition depend on viewers’ unique repertoires and affect their response. I conclude with a call to expand the scope of behavior science to include further analysis and research on aesthetics.


Fri, 31 Aug 2018, 5:00 pm