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When knowing you are doing well hinders performance: Exploring the interaction between rules and feedback
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The effect of two types of verbal consequences, rule-following feedback and task performance feedback, on rule-induced insensitivity to programmed schedules of reinforcement were examined. Rule-following feedback could be either accurate or non-contingently positive. The task involved moving a sign through a grid using telegraph keys operating on a multiple DRL 6/FR 18 schedule of reinforcement in the presence of an initially accurate rule. After acquisition, the multiple schedule was changed without notice to a FR 1/Ft Yoked schedule. Accurate rule-following feedback plus feedback on task performance produced striking insensitivity to the DRL 6 to FR 1 schedule change, the opposite of what might be expected by a common sense analysis of task performance feedback, even after controlling for contact with the changed contingency. It is argued that findings such as these can only he understood by considering the mutual verbal relations evoked by the combinations of rules and feedback, rather than treating feedback as a simple consequential event or as a verbal consequence whose effects do not depend on the relations sustained with other events.