An examination of the effect of tangible and social reinforcers on intelligence test performance of middle school students

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Janice Miller
Ben F. Eller
Cite this article:  Miller, J., & Eller, B. (1985). An examination of the effect of tangible and social reinforcers on intelligence test performance of middle school students. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 13(2), 147-158.


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The purpose of this study was to determine if intelligence quotient mean test scores of middle school students of different races, sexes, and socioeconomic classes could be significantly increased through the use of tangible and intangible rewards of money and praise. One hundred and thirty-five students from lower and middle socioeconomic classes were randomly assigned to three groups. The stratified groups, two experimental and one control, contained approximately the same number of male and female students. The students were identified as lower and middle socioeconomic class whites and lower socioeconomic blacks. Ten hypothesis were tested and the results supported the following: 1. Significant increases in the intelligence quotient test scores of lower class blacks were dependent upon monetary reward. 2. Significant increases in the intelligence quotient test scores of middle and lower class whites occurred when spoken verbal praise was administered. 3. The sequencing of money first and praise second led to significant increases in the scores of lower and middle class white females and middle class males.
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