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The effect of verbal reward on schizophrenic patients' performance of the Bender-Gestalt test Harrison, Donna Marian


In the present investigation, an attempt was made to test the hypothesis that experimentally induced motivation will improve schizophrenic patients' performance of the Bender-Gestalt test. For this purpose, the test was administered individuallly, under standardized conditions, to a group of patients diagnosed as schizophrenic, and to another group of schizophrenic patients to whom verbal reward was also given during their performance of the test. The experimental and control group were similar with respect to age, education, length of hospitalization, geographic area and sub-classification. Between seven and sixty days after admission, each subject was given the Bender-Gestalt test, either under control (no reward) or experimental (verbal reward) conditions. Test performances were scored according to the criteria set down by Pascal and Suttell (1951) and analyzed on the basis of overall score and individual card scores. A definite difference existed between the scores obtained by the control and experimental group. In all cases, the scores made by the subjects in the experimental group were consistently more favourable than those of the control group. To determine whether these differences were due to other factors such as age, education, etc., these factors were compared with obtained test scores. No relationship was established between any of these variables and test scores. Therefore, it was concluded that verbal reward was a significant determinant of the improved performance of the experimental group. The findings of this study also support the theory that schizophrenic disturbances in performance of the Bender-Gestalt test are due to motivational influences rather than distortions in perception. Further suggested is the possibility that faulty motivational systems rather than an irreversible loss of fundamental intellectual ability, is the major source of impaired performance of schizophrenic patients.

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