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

  • Douglas V
  • Parry P
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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.

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  • Virginia I. Douglas

  • Penny A. Parry

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