Effects of Negative Punishment on Culturants in a Situation of Concurrence between Operant Contingencies and Metacontingencies
Effects of negative punishment are analyzed either with an emphasis on undesirable behavioral byproducts or by reference to its possible role in an increase in group cohesion when punishment is contingent on behaviors undermining collective interests. The present study addresses negative punishment and its effects on social environments when operant contingencies and metacontingencies are concurrent and when the punitive event is contingent on culturant. Three microcultures with three participants each were exposed to a task in which each participant chose a row in a figure with four numbered rows shown on a computer screen. The experimental design was ABCABC. Operant contingencies were programmed such that in all conditions choosing an odd row produced three blue tokens and choosing an even row produced one red token. Programmed metacontingencies predicted consequences on Impulsive Culturant (Imp Cult, three odd rows or two odd rows and one even row) and Self-controlled Culturant (Self-contr Cult, three even rows or two even rows and one odd row). In Condition A, any culturant resulted in one school item being added to an item counter. In Condition B, Imp Cult resulted in the loss of one item, and Self-contr Cult produced the addition of one item. Finally, in Condition C, no culturant produced losses or additions of items. The results indicated that negative punishment reduced the percentage of Imp Cult, particularly in MC1 and MC3, maintaining high percentages of Self-contr Cult. The results suggest that at the cultural level, the effects of negative punishment are similar to those observed at the operant level.
KeywordsNegative punishment Ethical self-control Concurrence Metacontingencies
This study is part of the first author’s doctoral research under the guidance of Emmanuel Zagury Tourinho and was funded by the Fundação Amazônia de Amparo a Estudos e Pesquisas (FAPESPA, Brasil), the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES, Brasil), and the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq, Brasil). We thank Ana Paula Coutinho, Damom Ribeiro, David Rabelo, João Aristides Almeida, Laís Corrêa, and Yan Valderlon for their assistance during data collection in the Laboratory of Social Behavior and Cultural Selection at the Universidade Federal do Pará (LACS/UFPA). We also thank Propesp/UFPA and Imagine Tecnologia Comportamental for their support.
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