The present chapter continues the extension of dissonance theory to various well-established phenomena in psychology. The subject here is the well-documented finding that irregular, or partial, reinforcement results in stronger resistance to extinction than does regular reinforcement. We will also consider the effort-justification hypothesis in the context of research that shows resistance to extinction to be affected by the amount of physical effort exerted during learning. Rather than focusing specifically on a motive state, as in the previous three chapters, this chapter centers on the dependent variable of resistance to extinction. There is another important uniqueness associated with this chapter: the experimental subjects of these cognitive dissonance studies are rats.
Most of the research reported here can be credited to Lawrence and Festinger ( 1962). In applying dissonance theory to the partial-reinforcement effect (PRE) and other effort-justification phenomena they have created a diverse array of experimental situations in which the organism's behavior definitely should vary due to dissonance arousal, and at the same time they have tried to create conditions to which other interpretations would not apply. Whether other explanations have direct applicability will be taken up after their research is presented. For the present we will stick with the relationship between their reasoning from dissonance theory and the requisite experimental designs.
The rationale behind these studies is no different from that of the effort-justification paradigm with which the reader is now familiar. In fact, the design of these experiments is conceptually similar to those of Aronson and Mills ( 1959) and Gerard and Mathewson ( 1966), in which subjects who underwent an embarrassing experience or electric shock in order to join a group came to develop an increment of attraction to the group. What is required of Lawrence and Festinger's rats is no different from requirements for human subjects. The organism must be induced into performing a discrepant act-discrepant in that the act is rewarded only minimally or entails great effort expenditure. Subse-