Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


When an organism is allowed to choose "between working for food or receiving "free" food, what will its decision "be? For years such a question would have been addressed within the framework proposed by Clark Hull (1943): the organism would choose the alternative requiring the least amount of effort and eat the free food. However, several recent investigations have cast doubt on the generality of this lav: of least effort. Typically these studies have involved training organisms to respond for a reinforcer, defined as a stimulus that increases the probability of a response (Hilgard ?z Bower, 1966), and subsequently allowing them to choose between continuing to respond or obtaining the same reinforcer from a free supply. A majority of these experiments have reported that tinder ceDrtain conditions organisms continue to "work" for reinforcement rather than "freeload." As a result of these observations, the labels "contrafreeloading" (Taylor, 1972) and "Protestant ethic effect" (Singh, 1972; Metze & Craig, 1973) have been applied to this phenomenon. The general aim of this thesis is to contribute to the understanding of this behavior through a review of relevant literature and through experimental investigation of heretofore unresearched variables.



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