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Auburn University of Montgomery
FED 617- Advanced Educational Psychology
Instructor: Dr. M. Gilchrist
Presented by Nada AbiSamra
November 1999
 Operant Conditioning Assignment 
Subject: My daughter Cynthia

1- Description of the Subject 

Cynthia is a typical eight-year-old girl; she is very active, and likes to play a lot with boys; she feels that they understand her better since she likes almost the same things they like. She doesn't like to play with dolls and feels it is a loss of time to do that.
2- Behavior 

Cynthia does not like to listen to instructions from the first time. I have to repeat what I want her to do so many times before she does it that, sometimes, I even forget what I asked her.
3- Reinforcer & Schedules 

Cynthia doesn't get any allowance at all, but her brother does since he turned 10 in September. (We set a rule at home stipulating that no one gets any allowance before the age of 10-- we did that to give her brother some advantage, since he is the elder). So Cynthia gets upset from time to time because she doesn't have any money. Therefore, the primary reinforcer that I chose is "Quarters", and, of course, I coupled it with Praise so that I would be able to keep just Praise at the end.

As for the schedules of reinforcement I chose, they are:
- Continuous reinforcement (at the beginning), reinforcing her every time she listened to instructions instantly.
- Intermittent reinforcement (the 4th day), reinforcing only occasional responses.
After I reinforced Cynthia continuously for the first 3 days, and once she started listening to most of the instructions immediately as I gave them to her, I switched to a fixed ratio, reinforcing her every 3rd time, then to a variable ratio, reinforcing her without letting her have a basic idea about which time she would be rewarded.
4- Base Line 

I decided to give Cynthia 10 instructions everyday, to see how many of these instructions she would listen to immediately. Some of the instructions were:

  1. Turn off the TV
  2. Arrange your bed
  3. Come to have lunch now
  4. Put your plate in the sink after eating
  5. Don't fight with your brother
  6. Start studying now
  7. Go to bed
  8. Tidy your room
  9. Brush your teeth
  10. Take a shower
Day 1: Cynthia didn't listen to any of the instructions instantly. I had to repeat each one at least 4 times.
Day 2: Same
5- Log 

Day 3: Cynthia managed to listen instantly to 3 instructions. She was very happy to get quarters, except that it was
            difficult for her to listen to instructions instantly. She was not used to doing so.

Day 4: Cynthia listened instantly to 5 instructions. She said she had just forgotten when she didn't listen to the
            instructions from the first time and wanted to be reinforced, but she wasn't.

Day 5: Cynthia listened instantly to 4 instructions.

Day 6: Cynthia listened instantly to 2 instructions only! She didn't like the fact that she was not rewarded every
            time. She thought it was not profitable anymore.

Day 7: Cynthia listened to 1 instruction only! She preferred to ask her brother for money.

Day 8: Cynthia listened to 6 instructions. Her brother hadn't given her any money, and he was bragging about his.

Day 9: Cynthia listened to 5 instructions. I felt she was making an effort even though she didn't like that.

Day 10: Cynthia listened to 7 instructions. She was starting to have a good sum of money, and decided to buy
              herself some Pokemon cards with it (since her brother had a lot of them and wasn't sharing with her!)

Day 11: Cynthia listened to 5 instructions. She wanted the money, but was reluctant to comply every time. It was
              too much for her.
Day 12: Cynthia listened to 7 instructions. She wanted those Pokemon cards badly. Her brother was teasing her a

Day 13: Cynthia listened to 9 instructions. It was such a success! She even started valuing this. She was very
              happy to please me so much, and, in fact, she also improved in so many other ways.

Day 14: Cynthia listened to 8 instructions. She apologyzed a lot when she didn't listen to the two others. This
              experiment seems to be working so well!
6- What would I do with more time? 

If I had more time, I would start fading off the reinforcer. (I intend to do that anyway, I don't like the idea of having my daughter so much dependent on money. However, I cannot deny that this has worked wonderfully this time. At the beginning (the 7th day) I wanted to give everything up because I felt this experiment wasn't working at all, but I am glad that you didn't encourage me to do so --even though I didn't really tell you what was happening. I think  that my son's attitude helped a lot in making this experiment a success. And when I encouraged Cynthia to buy Pokemon cards with her money, this was decisive. I am glad this idea occurred to me.)
I know that we are supposed to get the most behavior with the least reinforcer; it is difficult! but this is what I intend to do. This time I will not even think of giving up.
7- Chart 


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Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Day 11 Day 12 Day 13 Day 14