Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Psychology


This study was designed to investigate whether there is any relationship between the recipient's subjective perceptions of the punishment situation and the effect the punishing stimulus will have upon the recipient's overt behaviour. The subjects were 49 female and 52 male first year students from the University of Wollongong. The experiment was conducted in two sound attenuated cubicles one containing the subjects' response panel, table chair and two speakers, the other containing the experimenter's response panel, table and chairs. Each subject participated individually completing the I-E Scale (Rotter, 1966) followed by a cross modality matching task and then the practice, learning and punishment trials for the button pressing task they were required to perform twice. Following each punishment phase the subject rated the punishing stimuli (strobe light and throbbing noise) on five separate rating scales.

The results of the investigation revealed a main effect that internally oriented individuals took longer to cease responding than externally oriented individuals and that as a subsidary result, the punishing stimulus was rated less severely following its use as a punishment than when it had been presented prior to punishment. The results also revealed that the relationship between the recipient's subjective rating of the severity of the punishing stimulus and recipient's responding in the punishment situation was not a direct one, as was hypothesised, but appeared to be modified by the recipient's level of perceived locus of control.