Date of Award

6-2004

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. James E. Carr

Second Advisor

Dr. Jack Michael

Third Advisor

Dr. Richard Mallot

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only

Abstract

Skinner's (1957) analysis of verbal behavior proposes that the mand and the tact are functionally independent verbal operants, each of which is acquired through a unique history of reinforcement. This study attempted to replicate the findings of Lamarre and Holland ( 1985), who empirically demonstrated the functional independence of mands and tacts in typically developing preschool children. Four children participated in the study. All of them were initially trained to complete two 4- piece assembly tasks. Three children were then trained to tact the four pieces that comprised one of the assembly tasks, and to mand for the four pieces that comprised the other task, using arbitrary response forms. The remaining child received tact training only, and only on one task. The effects of training on the untrained operant were evaluated in a multiple-probe design across assembly tasks. Following mand training, 3 out of 3 children reliably emitted tacts under testing conditions. The effects of tact training, on the other hand, differed across participants. The results differ from those of Lamarre and Holland. However, from the point of view of Skinner's analysis, they are not necessarily unexpected. Future research should attempt to identify variables that affect transfer of control between mand and tact relations.

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