Experimental analysis of the behavior of persons in groups: Selection of an aggregate product in a metacontingency

Joáo Claudio Todorov, Isis Vasconcelos


An experimental procedure was designed to analyze group behavior. This procedure was compatible with the basic definition of metacontingency: two persons behaving in a coordinated manner to produce an aggregate product. Positive consequences are produced based on the prescribed characteristics of the aggregate product. A chessboard-like table comprising 64 squares was projected on a computer screen, and knights (white and black) were positioned at opposite corners of the board. The players moved the knights one at a time. The goal was to end the trial with the knights positioned on adjacent cells of the table (aggregate product). An ABAB design was used. In the A (baseline) conditions, no consequence followed the trials (extinction). In the B conditions, the words “You win” appeared when the knights met within the boundaries established as the aggregate product for that trial. The variability of the sites selected by the participant in successive trials was used to measure the effect of the selecting consequences. “You win” predicted narrow adherence to the criterion for the aggregate product, while signalized extinction (“End of trial, try again”) resulted in variability in the selected sites.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/bsi.v24i0.5424

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