Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 281–302

Effects of reward and nonreward on frustration and attention in attention deficit disorder

  • Virginia I. Douglas
  • Penny A. Parry

DOI: 10.1007/BF02168075

Cite this article as:
Douglas, V.I. & Parry, P.A. J Abnorm Child Psychol (1994) 22: 281. doi:10.1007/BF02168075


The effects of reward schedule (100%, 50%, and 30%) and termination of rewards (extinction) on 30 attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADD-H) and 30 normal children were studied using measures of frustration (speed/strength of lever pulling) and attention (reaction time to a light signal). ADD-Hs pulled harder on the lever than controls during extinction and on the lowest (30%) partial schedule, providing empirical evidence that they respond with greater frustration than normals when expected rewards fail to appear. The groups did not differ on the attentional measure on 100% reward. However, the partial schedules appeared to have an alerting or motivating effect on the controls, so that they responded more quickly and consistently than ADD-Hs on the partial schedules. Findings are discussed with reference to opposing theories regarding the nature of the abnormal response of ADD-Hs to reward.

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virginia I. Douglas
    • 1
  • Penny A. Parry
    • 2
  1. 1.Montreal Children's Hospital Research InstituteMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Children's Advocate for City of VancouverVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada