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Subject: Assignment #1 - Operant Conditioning
Posted by: JESSICA HARRINGTON on 13:45:45 5/21/99:

Abstract - The subject of my experiment was my 16 year old daughter. She is a typical teenager, very busy with many needs, but does not like to help out around the house. Using a reward system I hoped to get her to help around the house, taking some of the burden off of me. Initially the reward system worked; however over time it was not enough to keep her complete attention or interest.

Purpose - To get my 16 year old to help around the house.

Method - Each week I gave my daughter a list of 10 chores that need to be done. Some were easy, some more difficult; they included taking out the trash, dusting, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming the living room, cleaning her bathroom, cleaning her room, cleaning the car, giving the dogs a bath, and whatever else might need to be done at a given time. I used a double reinforcement system. I rewarded her each day for each chore she completed, she received $1.00 for each chore. I also said that if by the end of the week all the chores had been completed she could use my car on Saturday night to go out with her friends.

Results - I found my daughter to be very motivated at the beginning, I was very encouraged. Overtime her desire to drive my car was still a great motivator, but ultimately not enough to get all the chore done. During the first week she was able to complete all the chores in 5 days. The second week it took her the full week to complete the chores, but she managed to get them all done. I was curious after the second week so I did a third week and found that she lost interest to the point she only completed 6 of the chores and they were the easiest ones only.

Below is the chart of her progress:

# of Chores Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
Week 1 4 2 2 1 1
Week 2 2 1 1 1 1 2 2
Week 3 2 1 1 2

Conclusion - I found that positive reinforcement does not always work how you would like it to work. It worked that it got her to do more around the house, but it did not work entirely, because she did not coplete all of her tasks. It started out with producing the desired results but fizzled as her attention waned. I'm not sure any teenager would maintain a focus on this experiment, they have to many other focuses.


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