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Scholars Day 2007, Wednesday, April 11

The Effects of Time-Out on Learning in Adults

Previous research has demonstrated that punishers are effective at altering behavior; however, little research has examined the effects of time-outs on learning. Therefore the present study examined how the magnitude of time-out following incorrect responses affected the ability of adults to learn simple visual discriminations. Sixty-four college students were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 groups that received a 0, 5, 10, or 20 sec time-out duration following an incorrect response. Each participant completed a simple visual discrimination task in which the participant attempted to determine and then remember the correct response for each of 8 different visual stimuli. The results indicated that time-out was effective at enhancing performance even when reinforcers for correct responses were used; however, the effectiveness was dependent on the duration of the time-out. These results demonstrate that punishers are effective at enhancing performance and time out is an effective form of punishment.

Presenter: Forrest Mengs (Undergraduate Student)
Topic: Psychology
Location: 107 Holmes
Time: 2:30 pm (Session IV)

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