Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Family Consumer Human Development


Don Carter


The motivating effects of positive and negative verbal reinforcement and researcher attitude on the performance of preschool children were studied in relation to socioeconomic level. Forty children from the Utah State University Child Development Laboratory and forty from Head Start classrooms in northern Utah served as subjects. Each child performed the simple task of placing pegs in a pegboard during a 60- second time interval; once under conditions of positive verbal reinforcement and positive attitude, and again, under one of four experimental conditions: control; positive reinforcement/positive attitude; negative reinforcement/positive attitude; or negative reinforcement/ negative attitude.

The findings seemed to indicate that the effectiveness of verbal reinforcement and researcher attitude on the motivation of preschool children varies with socioeconomic level. The variance tends to be one of greater response to either of the four experimental reinforcement conditions by children from the lower socioeconomic class than by those from the middle class. Differences in the effectiveness of various reinforcement conditions were not significant.