Testing the Validity of a Matching Law-Based Estimation of Punishment Sensitivity Open Access

Klapes, Bryan (2016)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/tb09j643j?locale=en


An individual's sensitivity to punishing stimuli has the potential to be used as an objective assessment of his or her level of depressive symptomology. Quantification of loss aversion (Kahneman & Tversky, 1984) was the leading approach to ascertaining this estimation. However, violations of the gain-loss separability (GLS; Kahneman & Tversky, 1992) axiom of Prospect Theory have arisen in the literature, leading to an opening for other approaches to take hold as the best approach to estimating punishment sensitivity. A matching law-based (Hernnstein, 1970) approach to punishment sensitivity estimation was developed by Rasmussen & Newland (2008). However, fits of the generalized matching law (GML; Baum, 1974b) to data acquired from their "punished" conditions were below the field's customary 85% variance accounted for (%VAF) threshold for good fits. Methodological alterations to the study design were employed in the present project in an attempt to obtain better fits using Rasmussen & Newland's approach. None of these manipulations resulted in fits of the GML to the punished conditions that consistently exceeded the %VAF threshold, and hence their method is not likely to be useful. A general increase in our foundational knowledge about contingent punishment may be necessary before a valid idiographic approach to estimating one's punishment sensitivity can be developed.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction 1

II. General Method 11

III. Experiment 1 13

IV. Experiment 2 15

V. Experiment 3 18

VI. General Discussion 21

VII. References 27

VIII. Appendices 38

IX. Tables 42

X. Figure Captions 53

XI. Figures 55

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