Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

James Craig, Leroy Metze, Lourine Cave

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The phenomena of an organism's preference to perform an operant task for a reinforcer rather than obtain the same reinforcer from a freely available source in a choice situation is referred to as the Protestant Ethic Effect (PEE). The present study hypothesized that different strains of rats would demonstrate different levels of work activity when placed in a work versus freeload choice situation.

Three strains of rats (Hooded, Sprague Dawley, and Wistar) were utilized. Each strain consisted of three male and three female animals, 100 to 110 days of age at the beginning of training. All subjects were trained to barpress for a single 45 mg Noyes food pellet and then presented with the choice between barpressing for food or eating freely accessible Noyes food pellets.

The results of the present study indicated general, but not strong support for strain differences in work preference. Over the four test days, the Hooded, the Wistar, and the Sprague-Dawley strains respectively earned 54 percent, 45 percent, and 23 percent of their total food consumed in the choice situation. Thus, the results would suggest the PEE would more likely be demonstrated if Hooded rats were employed as subjects rather than the other strains. A possible explanation for the difference in strains may be due to the general activity levels characteristic of the respective strain.


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Included in

Psychology Commons