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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #46

Explaining Emergent Tact Control

Saturday, May 25, 2019
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Hyatt Regency East, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom EF
Area: VRB; Domain: Basic Research
Instruction Level: Advanced
CE Instructor: Anna Petursdottir, Ph.D.
Chair: Sarah A. Lechago (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
ANNA PETURSDOTTIR (Texas Christian University)
Anna Ingeborg Petursdottir received her Ph.D. from Western Michigan University. She is currently an associate professor of psychology and chair of the psychology department at Texas Christian University (TCU), where she teaches courses and supervises doctoral students in Experimental Psychology. She also holds an appointment as a part-time lecturer at Reykjavik University. Anna is a previous editor of The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, a previous associate editor of JABA and a current associate editor of JEAB. She is president-elect of Division 25 of the American Psychological Association, a board member of the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, a member of the ABAI science board, and a past president of the Texas Association for Behavior Analysis. Anna’s research encompasses both basic and applied interests and focuses primarily on verbal behavior acquisition and the relationship between verbal behavior and derived stimulus relations.

Skinner (1957) defined the tact as a verbal response under the functional control of a nonverbal antecedent stimulus due to a history of generalized conditioned reinforcement. However, control by nonverbal stimuli over vocal verbal responses often emerges in the apparent absence of prior reinforcement. This phenomenon has been documented, for example, in research on on receptive-to-expressive generalization, stimulus pairing observation procedures, and instructive feedback, and it requires explanation in an operant account of language. It is commonly proposed that undocumented reinforcement of overt or covert echoic responses in the presence of the nonverbal stimulus plays a role in emergent tact control. In this presentation I will review research from my own lab and others that has addressed this hypothesis by measuring or manipulating the occurrence of echoic responses during learning trials. I will evaluate the extent to which the results support a functional role of echoic responding in emergent tact control and discuss alternative explanations of the phenomenon, including relational operants and stimulus correlation effects.

Target Audience:

Behavior analysts; scientists

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe the proposed role of the echoic in emergent tact control; (2) discuss which findings do and do not support involvement of echoic responding in emergent tact control; (3) describe two alternative explanations of emergent tact control.



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Modifed by Eddie Soh