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Information vs. Reward as the Active Ingredient of Reinforcement in the Acquisition of Skilled Performance

Greenwald, Anthony G.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
United States Public Health Service (USPHS), Feedback, Performance Factors, Reinforcement, Reward, Skill Development


Ss were asked to try to draw, blindfolded, a series of 7 1/2 inch long lines. In one condition (Reward), Ss were reinforced by being told Right or Wrong, depending on their accuracy; in the other condition (Information), they were told only whether they were Long or Short. The resulting superior acquisition of skill in the Information condition was interpreted as indicating that information about the accuracy of performance, rather than reward for accurate performance, is the essential ingredient of reinforcement in the acquisition of skilled performance. This finding is more consistent with a Law of Information than with the traditional Law of Effect.

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