Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Stephen L. O'Keefe


Based on a review of the literature on competition, several hypotheses on the effects of competitive instructional set on both speed and accuracy measures were explored using a paired associate learning paradigm. One hundred and forty second graders (70 boys and 70 girls) were randomly assigned to three instructional treatments: speed competition, accuracy competition and non-competition. The competitive groups were further divided into relative positions of win, lose and tie; subjects were equally divided by sex, Although the subjects in the speed competition group performed significantly faster than subjects in the other conditions, no significant differences were found between any of the treatment conditions and the non-competitive condition on number of errors in performance, Indications were that males and females may employ a different strategy approach to noncompetitive situations but that both respond equally to a competitive situation. Several possible explanations for these results are discussed. The implications of these results for education indicate that care and caution should be used in applying competitive instructional sets as a universal classroom technique.



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