During preparations for the quot;Gulf Warquot; a military psychologist attempted to examine the hypothesis that punishment is more effective for

During preparations for the “Gulf War” a military psychologist attempted to examine the hypothesis that punishment is more effective for training pilots from the various nations to recognize friendly aircraft than is reward. The problem was the correct identification of enemy and of friendly airplanes. In his experimental situation, he had his subjects sit in front of what looked to be a cockpit display. Silhouettes of enemy and of friendly airplanes were flashed on the screen in very short exposures (one second). Each subject participated in the experiment for two hours on five successive days. On the fist day, as each silhouette was flashed on the screen, the subject pressed either the “Friendly” or “Enemy” buttons and then was told by the experimenter if he had been right or wrong in his identification. Starting on the second day, subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The procedure was similar to the first day except in Group A the subjects were not punished for a wrong identification. In Group B, subject received an electric shock after every wrong identification. This same procedure was continued for days three and four. The fifth day was considered the “test” day, and the subjects followed the same procedure except neither reward, nor punishment, nor information from the experimenter was given to the subject. The number of correct identifications for 100 silhouettes presented was considered a test of the effectiveness of each training method. As expected, there was some loss of subjects over the five-day period; about 5 percent of the Group A subjects and about 35 percent of the Groups B subjects had dropped out of the experiment by the fifth day. Results indicated that on the 100 test trials given on the fifth day, the mean number of correct identifications for Group A was 80 and the mean for Group B was 92. The experimenter concluded that his hypothesis had been confirmed and suggested that all training programs be based on punishment.
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