Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School


Committee Member

James Todd, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Kenneth Rusiniak, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Renee Lajiness-O'Neill, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael Behen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ellen Koch, Ph.D.


Behavior excesses are a key feature in many psychiatric diagnoses. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), in particular, is almost entirely defined in terms of behavior excesses. Although much research has been conducted on OCD treatment, very little research has focused on understanding how these compulsive behaviors are acquired. The few theories advanced to explain the etiology of OCD compulsions have significant limitations. The purpose of this study is to test social facilitation as a potential mechanism through which compulsive behaviors are acquired, via an animal model. Schedule-induced polydipsia (SIP) was employed as the behavior of interest because there is empirical support indicating it as an animal model of compulsive behavior. The fundamental issue was to determine if naïve rats exposed to rats that drank reliably would (1) show elevated rates of drinking as a result of the exposure, and then (2) acquire SIP more rapidly than rats without that exposure. Twenty-four male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly designated to be (1) drinking model rats, (2) drinking naïve rats, (3) feeding control model rats, (4)feeding control naïve rats, (5) social contact control model rats, (6) social contact control naïve rats, and (7) naïve control rats. SIP was established in the drinking model rats using a fixed-time 60-second schedule of food delivery (FT-60) with water available. Once stable drinking occurred, the models and their matched naïve rat were placed in the same experimental chamber to determine if drinking in the naïve rat would be socially facilitated. Strong individual differences in drinking by the naïve rats were observed. However, the overall indications were that social facilitation may play a role in enhancing the acquisition of SIP and that social facilitation may be a factor in the development of compulsive behavior.

Included in

Psychology Commons