Sarah B. Shuey

Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Donald Witters

Degree Award Date

Fall 2000


Reinforcers, Deadlines, Rule-Governed Behavior, preschool children


Child Psychology | Psychology


This study examined the effects of reinforcers and deadlines on rule-governed behavior. Three preschool children in a pre-kindergarten developmental group were presented with rules involving variations of the reinforcer and deadline specification. Both reinforcers and deadlines were presented in the rule statement as either immediate or non-existent. The results showed that rules specifying no reinforcement, but immediate deadlines do not exert reliable control over behavior. It was also found that immediate reinforcers combined with either no deadline or an immediate deadline in rule statements, do exert reliable control over behavior. In addition, the study showed that the accumulation of smaller rewards (stickers) towards a larger prize (small toy) exerted the most reliable control over behavior, regardless of deadline specificity. This study concludes that reinforcers are the more controlling feature in rule statements that specify both reinforcers and deadlines for preschool children. The results of the study are interpreted by use of various figures presenting this study's data combined with interpretations of previous studies in the related field.