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Ethnic differences in the relative effectiveness of incentives Cameron, Catherine Ann

Abstract

An experiment was performed to test the hypothesis that the performance of B.C. Indian children for non-material incentives would be inferior to their performance on the same task for material incentives. The reverse was expected to be true of middleclass white Canadian children. Working-class white children were expected to be intermediate. Sixty-six male Ss from 6 to 13 years were given fifty trials on a discrimination task. They were reinforced either by candy or by a light flash. Middle-class Ss were significantly superior to Indian and working-class Ss under non-material but not under material conditions. There was, however, no significant difference between Indians and working-class whites. Other measures included TAT stories scored, for n Achievement and an immediate-delayed reward choice. Each of these discriminated middle-class white Ss from the other two groups, but did not discriminate between Indian and working-class children. Middleclass Ss were much more likely to show achievement imagery and to choose a larger, delayed reward. Reservations about making generalizations from the results Of this sample were discussed; refinements in the procedures were proposed; and behavioral contrasts between the three subcultural groups were described with the view of presenting suggestions for further research in this area.

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