Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Roger E. Ulrich

Second Advisor

Dr. David Lyon

Third Advisor

Dr. Fred Gault

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


A six-month-old infant was conditioned to imitate four verbal cues presented by an adult experimenter by using food as a reinforcer. Aversive schedules (escape-avoidance of, or punishment with a loud buzzer) were then introduced to suppress inattentive behavior. Inattention defined as looking away from the investigator, crying, rate of vocalizations, and accuracy of imitations were measured. Three conclusions of the experiment were: 1) verbal imitation can be shaped and maintained through positive reinforcement; 2) the use of aversive schedules is not necessarily beneficial for the performance of the imitative task, or for the general well-being of the child.