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Acta Comportamentalia

Print version ISSN 0188-8145


MATSUO, Gilsany Leão; ALBUQUERQUE, Luiz Carlos de  and  PARACAMPO, Carla Cristina Paiva. Effects of justifications reported in rules on rule following. Acta comport. [online]. 2014, vol.22, n.3, pp. 273-293. ISSN 0188-8145.

This study investigated the effects of justifications present in rules on rule following. Eighteen college students were exposed to a matching to sample procedure with the task of pointing each comparison stimulus in sequence. Each comparison stimulus had only one property in common with the sample -color (C), thickness (E) or form (F). The simple (EFC) and the complex sequences (EFCFCE) were the correct and the only these yield points exchangeable for money, in a continuous reinforcement schedule. In Experiment 1 three participants were allocated to each of four conditions, composed of five phases. Phase 1, baseline, begun with the presentation of the minimum instruction (sequence was not specified) and ended after 10 trials. Each of the following phases begun with the presentation of a rule without justification, or with the presentation of one of three rules with justification, ending after 20 trials. Every rule specified both correct senquences. The rules with or without additional justification mentioned that correct sequences would yield points. Each rule with additional justification had also a justification for the participante to emit the complex sequence, specified that the participant would earn double points, or would help others, or that would both, win double points and help others. All participants were exposed to rules with and without additional justification. The conditions differed only in respect to the order of presentatian of the two rules. The Experiment 2 tried a systematic replication of Experiment 1 with six new participants, aiming to assess the effects of justifications on maintenance of choosing the complex sequence in the absence of points during the phases. It was shown that: 1) in the absence of a rule specifying the sequences to be emitted, (as was the case in Phase 1), the participants tended to present a variable performance with none presenting the complex sequence; 2) in phases with the rule presenting the same justification (earning points) both for emission of simple and complex sequences (phases with rule without additional justification) the participants tended to emit the simple sequence; and, 3) in phases with rule with additional justification (earn double points, help others or both) for the emission of the complex sequence the participants tended to present the complex sequence. The results support the proposition that rules may change the probability of the specified behavior to occur in the future, and have implications for the role of the control by rules in the account of behavior.

Keywords : Rules and contingencies; histories of rule following; future and immediate consequences; formal properties of rules; justifications; cultural practices; the account of behavior.

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