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Instructional control of vasomotor responding : a test of conditioning, two process, and expectancy theories


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Eaglen, Andrew Richard 1981 , 'Instructional control of vasomotor responding : a test of conditioning, two process, and expectancy theories', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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For many years there has been a debate between proponents of
competing learning theories over the role of expectancy in conditioning
and extinction. Although this debate has been the subject
of an intensive experimental literature, it has not been satisfactorily
resolved. Many research designs are intrinsically incapable
of dissociating the influence of expectancy from other factors held
to be important by competing theories. However, the informed
unpairing design (Brewer, 1974), in which subjects are informed of
changed contingencies at the onset of extinction, is argued to
provide a powerful test of expectancy, two factor, and conditioning
theories. It is also argued that the bidirectional vasomotor
response provides a solution to the related problems of expectancy
manipulation and artifact control that confound previous research
using this design .
A programme of research based on the informed unpairing design,
and using the vasomotor response, was undertaken. Responding in
extinction following several expectancy manipulation procedures was
compared in subjects given 25 continuously reinforced acquisition
trials (CRF25); 100 continuously reinforced trials (CRF100); and
100 partially reinforced trials (PRF). It was found that responding
in CRF25 and PRF groups in extinction was abolished by unpairing
instructions coupled with removal of the thermal stimulator used
for UCS presentation. A significant reduction in responding in
CRF25 and PRF groups was also obtained following unpairing
instruction alone as compared with groups given no instruction. The
CRF25 group instructed at the onset of extinction that they would be reinforced on a PRF schedule showed a non significant trend for
greater resistance to extinction than those given no instruction.
These results provide strong support for an expectancy based, rather
than two factor or conditioning based, explanation of responding
in these groups.
However, no effects of expectancy manipulation on responding in
extinction were obtained in CRF100 groups, and attempts to generate
responding in two groups by instruction alone proved unsuccessful.
These results are consistent with the hypothesis that there may be
two conditioning processes; one expectancy dependent and the other
expectancy independent. Existing learning theories based on two
conditioning processes are unable to account for all of the results
of the present research. However, it is argued that the results of
the present study are consistent with a number of studies in the
skill learning literature. Models proposed to account for skill
learning which distinguish between processes involved in acquisition
and early performance, and those involved in much practised responding,
provide a possible explanation for the obtained results.
Consequences of the research for the behaviour therapies are

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Eaglen, Andrew Richard
Keywords: Vasomotor conditioning, Conditioned response, Learning, Psychology of
Copyright Holders: The Author
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Copyright 1981 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1982. Includes the author's published papers. Bibliography : l. 189-202

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