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Thesis (M.A.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1962. Department of Psychology.


Copyright 1962, the author. Used by permission.


The present experiment was designed to study the effects of both severe and prolonged motor restriction. The specific purpose was to determine the differences in behavior in an instrumental learning situation between groups of mature rats, which, during development, were permitted different amounts of motor activity, varying from almost none, to a moderate amount, to a large amount of activity. Some of the rats were placed in a confined space, with a bar jutting out of a wall which they could only press.

The study was the outgrowth of two pilot studies, the first of which was designed to explore the effects of previous activity on instrumental learning. The behavior of the five female rats in the sample (two low, one medium, and two high in activity amounts) was observed during learning. It was observed that the bar was being pressed from behavior that did not appear to be food seeking, and that the animals with differing activity levels were not behaving the same way.

The second pilot study, with 12 rats, was designed to further explore behavioral differences, and to attempt to define and quantify the behaviors. After prolonged observation, the types of behavior that involved bar-pressing were identified as food seeking, play, exploration, fear, and frustration.

Advisor: William J. Arnold