The Psychological Record

, Volume 67, Issue 3, pp 399–411 | Cite as

Effects of Cultural Consequences on the Interlocking Behavioral Contingencies of Ethical Self-Control

  • Aécio Borba
  • Emmanuel Zagury Tourinho
  • Sigrid S. Glenn
Original Article


A particular type of self-control occurs when the conflict between immediate and delayed consequences is associated with consequences that are more favorable to either the individual or the group. In such cases, responding under the control of delayed consequences more favorable to the group can be considered an instance of ethical self-control. The literature shows that the selection of self-control and ethical self-control depends on contingencies arranged by group members, indicating that these phenomena are cultural products. This study proposes a procedure to investigate the selection, maintenance, and transmission of ethical self-control in an arrangement similar to a metacontingency. Two microcultures were exposed to a task in which each participant had to choose a row in a colored 10 × 10 matrix. There were individual contingencies in all conditions: choosing odd-numbered rows produced 3 tokens that could be exchanged for money, and choosing even-numbered rows produced only 1 token. In some conditions, there were also cultural contingencies that enabled the production of school items to be subsequently donated to public schools. This study aimed at assessing whether the interlocking behavioral contingencies (IBCs) associated with aggregate products could be selected by cultural consequences of a different nature from individual consequences in situations in which the production of cultural consequences competed with the production of individual consequences of a greater magnitude. The production of school items was contingent on the occurrence of IBCs + Aggregate Products (AP) that involved choosing 3 even rows of different colors. The results showed that cultural consequences had an effect on the selection of IBCs + AP that involved ethical self-controlled responses. The procedure here presented showed promising to study the phenomena of ethical self-control.


Ethical self-control Metacontingencies Laboratory microcultures Cultural practices 


Compliance With Ethical Standards:


This research was partially supported by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES, Brasil) and by the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq, Brasil). The authors would also like to thanks the support of PROPESP/UFPA.

Conflict of interests

All three authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Núcleo de Teoria e Pesquisa do ComportamentoUniversidade Federal do ParáBelémBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Behavior AnalysisUniversity of North TexasDentonUSA

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