Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Member

James T. Todd

Committee Member

Renee Lajiness-O’Neill

Committee Member

Thomas J. Waltz

Committee Member

Thomas J. Gola


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a form of acquired brain injury that impacts millions of individuals annually. The severity of TBI can range from mild to moderate and severe, with moderate to severe injuries associated with significant and prolonged impairment within cognitive, behavioral, and emotional functioning domains. Moderate to severe TBI, thus, has long-lasting effects that demand life-long accommodations and care. Many behavioral interventions aim to compensate for skill deficits, but these techniques increase reliance on external cues and may not serve to enhance internal, self-motivated action. Interventions that aim to improve internal motivation are therefore desirable, but are lacking within the current TBI rehabilitation literature. The current study aimed to increase adaptive functioning for three individuals with moderate to severe TBI following exposure to an effort training paradigm grounded in learned industriousness theory. Specifically, the current study aimed to (a) replicate the learned industriousness effect pioneered by Eisenberger and his colleagues in participants with a history of moderate to severe TBI who exhibit low levels of engagement in activities of daily living (ADLs), (b) investigate the effect of effort training as an intervention to increase engagement in ADLs among participants who exhibit low levels of engagement in performing ADLs, and (c) expand upon learned industriousness literature by examining the effect of effort training on reports of self-efficacy, self-reported emotional functioning, and quality of life. Results showed modest support for the learned industriousness phenomenon, where aspects of persistence and generalization of effort were observed on card-sorting performances, but transfer of persistence to ADLs and improvements in emotional functioning were minimal. The findings provide foundational support for future effort training investigations serving to improve adaptive functioning among individuals with brain injury.

Included in

Psychology Commons