Publications & Resources

Variations in Teachers’ Reinforcement Style and Imitative Behavior of Children Differing in Personality Characteristics and Social Background

Feb 1967

Norma D. Feshbach

The purpose of this investigation was to study the effects of variations in reinforcement sty le of a teacher upon imitative behavior and preferences of children differing in personality traits and social background. The children in the experimental group viewed two films, one depicting a ”Positive” teacher, consistently rewarding correct responses; the other depicting a “Negative” teacher, consistently criticizing incorrect responses. Each teacher displayed distinctive incidental behaviors, the child’s imitation of which constituted the major dependent variable. The results indicated that children from economically advantaged backgrounds imitated the Positive teacher significantly more often than the Negative teacher and showed significantly more imitation than did the Disadvantaged children. A positive relationship between dependency and imitative behavior was confirmed for the advantaged group. The findings indicated that preference for a teacher was unrelated to imitation of that teacher.

Feshbach, N. D. (1967). Variations in teachers’ reinforcement style and imitative behavior of children differing in personality characteristics and social background (CSE Report 35). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, Center for the Study of Evaluation.