Document Type


Date of Degree Completion


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair

Marion Harless

Second Committee Member

Thomas B. Collins, Jr.

Third Committee Member

Robert Hudson


The possibility that superstitious responses would occur when aversive stimulation was randomly presented was investigated. There were three groups of 20 male introductory psychology students each. The Shock Group (SG) was given 45 unavoidable shocks. The Reinforcement Shock Group {RSG) was given 100 positive reinforcements and then 45 unavoidable shocks. The Reinforcement Punishment Group received 100 positive reinforcements and then 45 response contingent shocks and served to test the effectiveness of the shock as a punishing stimulus. Superstitious responses seemed to occur, but Ss of SG showed response patterns typical of punishment, while Ss of RSG showed increases in rates of responding but not decreases. It was concluded that superstitious responses appear to occur when aversive stimulation is arbitrarily introduced, but that the type of superstitious response occurring will be influenced by a S's reinforcement history.