Date of Award

May 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

John C. Moore

Committee Members

Jonathan W. Kanter, Pamela M. Schaefer, Jeffrey Tiger, Douglas W. Woods


Second Order Contingencies, Self-Awareness, Subsequent Behavior, Translational Research


Humans often use terms and concepts that include self- as prefix in an effort to explain their behavior (e.g., self-awareness, self-control) (Goldiamond, 1959, 1962, 1965, 1966; Nisbett & Wilson, 1977). Although there are many ways to interpret such terms, they all seem to involve circumstances in which individuals' own prior behavior is discriminative for their subsequent behavior. Behavior under the discriminative control of other behavior may be a kind of self-report (Skinner, 1957). The concepts of self-awareness and self-report can be studied as a behavioral process, without mentalistic inference. In the present research, pigeons were trained in a compound, discrete-trial procedure. The first component of a trial was a conventional matching to sample (MTS) component. The second component was a probe in which the pigeons were presented with two further stimuli, responses to one of which were reinforced conditional on correct performance in the prior matching component. Pigeons' baseline MTS accuracy was 65% on average. In certain conditions after the probe component was added, accuracy increased to above 85% on the MTS and 75% on the probe components, indicating pigeons' own prior behavior can indeed become discriminative for their subsequent behavior. The procedure appears promising as a means for assisting individuals with mental health needs to better come under the discriminative control of the outcomes of their own prior behavior.