Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #262
CE Offered: BACB
Controlling Social Learning Contingencies in the Development of Verbal Behavior
Sunday, May 25, 2014
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
W181a (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: DEV/VRB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: R. Douglas Greer (Columbia University Teachers College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)
CE Instructor: R. Douglas Greer, Ph.D.

We present 3 papers concerning the identification and establishment of controlling contingencies for verbal behavior developmental cusps. Building on the previous identification of the role of the echoic as a conditioned reinforcer, the first paper reports that pre-teaching the echoic facilitated tact learning in preschoolers. This finding is related to recent research on the role of length of speech sound utterances on language acquisition. The second paper reports 3 experiments isolating the effect of observing actions as children with the naming cusp are provided name-learning experiences on their incidental learning of name of things. The data suggest that the presence of actions in name learning opportunities interferes with the learning of names as a speaker: they learn the actions but not the names. However, if children are provided multiple-exemplar training across name learning experiences involving they can learn the tacts of things in addition to the actions incidentally. The third paper reports the effects of a protocol for establishing social reinforcement in fourth graders with autism. The paper extends the findings on the role of yoked contingencies in social learning of social reinforcers.

Keyword(s): Echoic-tact

The Effects of Pre-Teaching the Echoic on Learning Tacts

R. Douglas Greer (
Teachers College, Columbia University and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
), LIN DU (Teachers College, Columbia University), Luis Perez Gonzales (University of Oviedo)

We tested the effects of pre-teaching the echoic in isolation on preschoolers' learning of tacts using a non-concurrent multiple baseline design across participants with counterbalanced sets of stimuli. Eight preschoolers (age from 3 to 5 years old) diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders were participants in the study. The participants were divided into 4 dyads based on their levels of verbal of behavior development. The dependent variable was the number of learn units to criterion in tact programs. Within each dyad, we taught one participant tacts by pre-teaching the echoics and the other one we taught using the traditional echoic-to-tact teaching before they were switched and received the other treatment condition. We found that a combination of training procedures that teach the student to echo the word (target picture out of sight), then say the word independently (target picture out of sight) was more effective and efficient for 3 of 4 sets for our participants.


Actions and Names: Observing Responses and Incidental Language Acquisition

CLAIRE S. CAHILL (Fred S. Keller School), R. Douglas Greer (Teachers College, Columbia University and Graduate School of Arts andSciences  )

In 3 experiments we investigated the relation between observing responses and language acquisition by preschoolers with and without disabilities. In Experiment I, participants were presented with the opportunity to observe multiple aspects of a stimulus, such that the participant heard the name of an object while observing an action demonstrated with the object. Participants consistently acquired the actions associated with the objects, but produced fewer names as a speaker. Experiment II analyzed responses to stimuli presented with and without actions. The results indicated that the visual-motor (action) aspects of the stimuli selected out the participants observing responses over the auditory (name) aspects of the stimulus. The presence of an action hindered rather than facilitated incidental acquisition of names, suggesting the dominance of visual stimuli over auditory stimuli. In Experiment III, participants were selected who acquired listener responses when actions were present, but did not readily acquire the speaker responses. Following a multiple exemplar intervention (MEI), participants acquired both speaker and listener responses. The results suggest that rotated opportunities to emit multiple responses to a single stimulus in the presence of reinforcement can result in a shift of stimulus control such that new observing responses emerge.


Establishment of Social Listener Reinforcement in Fourth Graders with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder

JO ANN PEREIRA DELGADO (Teachers College, Columbia University), Jennifer Weber (Morris School District and Teachers College, Columbia University), R. Douglas Greer (Teachers College, Columbia University and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)

In two experiments, we studied social listener reinforcement in an elementary inclusive setting. Experiment 1 consisted of a comparison of the number of verbal vocal operants and socially appropriate behaviors emitted by four elementary age students with and without disabilities, using a multiple probe design. Probes were conducted in three settings: 1) social discussions, 2) academic discussions, 3) lunch time across 5 days for each peer and participant. Additionally, we measured social behaviors that each peer and participant emitted throughout the school day across 10 consecutive days. The results indicated that typically developing peers emitted a greater number of social vocal operants and appropriate social performance behaviors. These results indicated that Participant 1 and 2 did not demonstrate social-listener reinforcement. In Experiment 2, we tested the effects of a social-listener reinforcement (SLR) intervention with two students with autism, using a delayed multiple probe design. The sequence of the SLR procedures included: 1) I Spy, 2) 20 Questions, 3) Guess Who, 4) Advanced 20 Questions, 5) Peer Tutoring, 7) Group Instruction, and 8) Empathy. Results demonstrated that the social-listener reinforcement procedure significantly increased the numbers of vocal verbal operants and socially appropriate behaviors emitted by participants.




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