A Metacontingency Experiment: The Effects of Contingent Consequences on Patterns of Interlocking Contingencies of Reinforcement

Christian Vichi, Maria Amalia Pie Abib Andery, Sigrid S Glenn


College students were assigned to 2 groups of 4 participants each in a reversal design. On each trial participants chose individually how many tokens to bet, and then collectively chose a row on an 8x8 matrix with a plus or minus sign in each cell. After that the experimenter announced a column that determined whether the group won or lost the bets. Before the trial ended, participants had to distribute their earnings. In experimental condition A the group won in trials after distributing proceeds equally on the previous trial, and in condition B they won only after unequal distribution in the previous trial. Results show that the external contingency on distribution (or, as we suggest, metacontingency) selected the groups’ distribution of their earnings.


interlocking behavioral contingencies, metacontingencies, cultural selection, experimental microcultures

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/bsi.v18i1.2292

Published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Library

And Behaviorists for Social Responsibility