Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors




The term contingency shaped refers to any response class governed by its direct consequences (Catania, 1973). In a theoretical paper on problem solving Skinner (1966) discriminated between contingency shaped and rule-governed behavior by stating that no matter how similar in form they may appear each have independent controlling variables and functional properties. In a later analysis (Skinner, 1974) he elaborated on rule-governed behavior by pointing out that one distinct form of rule-governed behavior is instruction following. An instructional episode, however, consists of more than any verbal or non-verbal statement of contingencies, but includes the consequences in question as well (Cerutti, 1989). Given this definition, it is apparent that humans are constantly encountering instructional episodes. As a result, all verbal humans clearly have a socially reinforced repertoire of behavior that is under instructional control by the time they reach an early age. As a distinct class of behavior, instruction following often comes to be highly reinforcing as instructions serve to expedite reinforcement or escape from punishment.



Faculty Mentor

Gretchen A. Gimpel

Departmental Honors Advisor

Shannon Turner