Changes in our immediate environment--as well as our virtual--have great potential to decrease the reinforcing effects of stimuli once identified as potent and reliable in past generations. Extant reinforcement surveys and item preferences assessments alike have shown to be a reliable mode of ascertaining potent reinforcers for various populations; however, many are outdated and may comprise of items or rewards that contemporary populations may not value. Considering the substantial environmental changes that have occurred over recent decades, in tandem with the availability of outdated reward surveys, efforts should be directed towards obtaining empirical evidence demonstrating that contemporary adolescents hold different preferences towards rewarding stimuli, compared to previous generations. The purpose of this research is to replicate and extend upon the Houlihan and colleagues' (1991) Survey of Rewards for Teens (SORT) and assess whether there is evidence of a potential, generational shift in reward preferences in high school students from 1991 to 2016. Results lend to preliminary evidence suggesting that the reward preferences of contemporary high school students' differ compared to the sample of adolescents in Houlihan and colleagues' (1991) study. In addition, a proposed, revision of the Survey of Rewards for Teens is provided, Using a principal components analysis (PCA) and psychometric assessment of the responses from a nationally representative sample of contemporary high school students, a preliminary revision of the Survey of Rewards for Teens was developed as a secondary outcome of the study.


Daniel Houlihan

Committee Member

Shawna Peterson-Brown

Committee Member

Jasper Hunt

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)




Social and Behavioral Sciences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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