John O. Kling

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Research indicates that punishment sometimes has discriminative as well as suppressive properties. The discriminative property of punishment usually has been exhibited by correlating punishment, with positive reinforcement, then testing for facilitative effects of punishment on responding in the absence of positive reinforcement. In the present study, punishment was correlated with one or the other of the two components of a multiple fixed-ratio schedule after the discrimination based on differential frequency of reinforcement had been formed. The correlation of punishment x^ith the components we.s reversed with the expectation that reversal of the correlations would reveal appropriate changes in responding in the newly punished component. Further tests were made of the presumed discriminative role of punishment by adding punishment to both schedule components during extinction. Punishment did suppress responding, although recovery of prepunishment response rate was observed in the high-frequency component of the multiple schedule as anticipated. However, evidence of a discriminative property of punishment was not obtained in any of the comparisons. Several explanations for the failure to find discriminative effects were considered. The most promising is an application of the Miller-Egger hypothesis to the effect that in a well-controlled multiple-schedule punishment is a redundant cue.