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Studying the Effects of Motivation on the Emergence of Untrained Verbal Operants by Alysia Gilliam A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Child and Family Studies College of Behavioral and Community Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Timothy Weil, Ph.D. Raymond Miltenberger, Ph.D. Trevor Stokes, Ph.D. Date of Approval: June 23, 2009 Keywords: verbal behavior, autism, tact, mand, preference Copyright 2009, Alysia Gilliam
i Table of Contents List of Figures ii Abstract iii Chapter One Introduction 1 Chapter Two Method 11 Participant and Setting 11 Materials 12 Response Definitions 13 Data Collection and Interobserver Agreement 13 Preference Assessments 14 Food Assessments 14 Leisure Assessments 14 Experimental Procedure and Design 15 Pre-instructional Tact Probe 15 Pre-instructional Mand Probe 15 Tact Training 16 Post Instructional Impure Mand Probe 17 Post Instructional Impure LP/Pure HP Mand Probe 18 Chapter Three Results 20 Chapter Four Discussion 24 References 30 Appendices 32 Appendix A: Tact Training Data Sheet 33 Appendix B: Mand Test Data Sheet 34
ii List of Figures Figure 1. Represents the results of leisur e assessments for all three participants (shaded bars represent it ems taught as tacts). 22 Figure 2. Mands for HP and LP It ems during mand probes (left scale) and tacts for HP and LP items dur ing tact training (right scale) 23
iii Studying the Effects of Motivation on the Emergence of Untrained Verbal Operants Alysia Gilliam ABSTRACT In Skinners (1957) analysis of verbal beha vior, the tact and mand are suggested to be functionally independent verbal operants. Many studies evaluating the verbal operants have provided results consistent with Skinne rs notion of functional independence. For example, previous studies have yielded resu lts showing that res ponses taught as tacts failed to emerge as mands unless they were di rectly trained as such. However, in many of the studies evaluating the functional independence of the verbal op erants it is unclear whether the mand conditions were designed to act ually evaluate that response function. The current study replicated and extended th e findings of Wallace, Iwata, and Hanley (2006), who empirically demonstrat ed conditions that facilitated the transfer from tact to mand relations. Students in the current study we re taught to tact both high preference and low preference items and were subsequently assessed on their ability to mand for those items. Responses taught as tacts transferred to mand responses without direct training for the high preference items only. These results suggest that the c onditions under which training of one operant facilitates the emergence of an untrained verbal operant may be related to motivating operations.
1 Chapter One Introduction Individuals diagnosed with autism and ot her developmental disabilities tend to have language delays requiri ng programming to establish spontaneous and functional language. Consequently, understanding the c onditions under which various aspects of language are acquired has been an ongoing focus of language researchers for many decades. In formulating a behavioral acc ount of language, Skinner (1957) developed a theoretical analysis of verbal behavior, in which he concluded that language was a learned behavioral repertoire and, as with any behavior in a behavioral account, was controlled by variables in the environment. Unlike traditional linguists who interpret language according to word meaning and syntac tical structure, Skinners analysis of verbal behavior identifies the functional, and, to a lesser extent, struct ural elements of an individuals verbal repertoire (Skinner). As a result, this an alysis has been used as the framework for a variety of language assessment and remedial language acquisition programs for individuals with language de ficits, including children with autism (Sundberg & Partington, 1998). Skinner (1957) suggested that an individua ls verbal repertoire is composed of various types of speaker and listener behaviors and classified language according to the functional variables (i.e., motivational variables, discriminative stimuli, and consequences) controlling these behavi ors (Sundberg, 2007). These functionally
2 independent classes of behavior or verbal operants are id entified as the: mand, tact, intraverbal, textual, echoic, tr anscription, and copying-a-text. According to Skinner (1957), the mand is a verbal operant in which the response is reinforced by a characteri stic consequence and is ther efore under the control of relevant conditions of depriva tion or aversive stimulation (p. 35-36). In other words, the mand response is evoked by an establishing operation (EO) (Mic hael, 1988; Michael, 1993) and is maintained by a specific reinforcer relevant to the EO. Thus, the mand is a verbal operant in which a speaker requests or asks for what he wants or needs (what is currently reinforcing) at a partic ular moment in time. In contrast, the tact is defined as a verbal operant in which a response form is evoked by a particular object or event or property of an object or event (Skinner, 1957, p.82). That is, th e tact is a type of verbal behavior in which a speaker names or labels aspects of his environment. Unlike the mand, which is evoked by establishing operations and maintained by specific reinforcement, the tact is under the functional control of discriminative stimuli and is strengthened by generalized reinforcers provided by the spea kers verbal community. Although the mand and tact may differ in terms of the functio nal properties (i.e., the controlling antecedent and consequent vari ables) that define them, they often have identical responses topographies. For exam ple, a child may say bubbles after being deprived of bubbles for days and as a result a teacher gives the child bubbles In this scenario, bubbles is a mand response. On th e other hand, a tact is emitted if the child said bubbles after a teache r held up a bottle of bubbles, asked What is this?, and subsequently provided praise for the correct answer. Although identical response forms may function as both mands and tacts, Skinner indicates that each verbal operant is
3 functionally independent as de fined by the distinct properties of the environmental variables that control it (Skinner, 1957, pp. 187190). By this, Skinner is referring to the notion that each operant is acquired through a unique history of reinforcement, and that training in one operant does not automatically tr ansfer to the other verbal operants. Thus, ability to label juice when a child sees jui ce (tact) does not automatically lead to the ability to request juice when the child is thirsty (mand). The notion of functional independence has been well documented in the literature and has been the focus of many empirical st udies investigating Skinners analysis of verbal behavior (Sautter & LeBlanc, 2006). Previous research has illustrated the functional independence of ma nds and tacts in various popul ations, including the vocal repertoires of typically developing presc hool children (Lamarre & Holland, 1985), the signing repertoires of hearing impaired and developmentally delayed teenagers (Hall & Sundberg, 1987), in the verbal behavior of adul ts with severe mental retardation using graphic symbols (Sigafoos, Doss, & Reichl e, 1989) and in the acquisition of impure mands and impure tacts of young children with language delays (Twyman, 1995). For example, Lamarre and Holland (1985) were the first to empi rically investigate the functional independence of mands and ta cts with human participants (preschool children). Previous studies in this regard had been limited to chimpanzee-language research (Savage-Rumbaugh, Rumbaugh, Smith, & Lawson, 1980). In the investigation by Lamarre and Holland, some participants we re taught to mand for the experimenter to place items on the left and on the right. Subsequently, the experimenters assessed whether the participants could use the same topographical res ponses (on the left or on the right) as tacts as a result of mand traini ng. The other participants learned to tact the
4 prepositional locations of items (i.e., on th e left and on the right) and were then assessed for the ability to mand using these prepositional phrases. In short, the authors sought to determine if training one verbal response to func tion as a mand would generalize to a tact function and vice versa. Results indicated generalization across operants did not occur and that the participants only acquired the verbal operant that was directly trained. Similarly, Hall and Sundberg (1987) ta ught deaf adolescents with multiple disabilities to complete a series of behavi ors in a behavior chai n (i.e., making instant soup). The participants were then taught to t act every item used in the chain. After tact training, mand responses were probed by withholding an item necessary to complete the chain, thus increasing the reinforcing value of that item. The results indicated that mands were rarely emitted following tact training, m eaning that teaching tacts and contriving situations in which items trained as tacts functioned as reinforcers was insufficient in producing mand responses for the same items However, one untrained mand response did occur with one participant after two other mand responses were taught, which may suggest that an existing mand re pertoire is needed in order for transfer to occur. In a similar study involving da ily living skills, Sigafoos et al. (1989) taught adults with mental retardation to use graphic sym bols to tact food and beverage items and the utensils necessary to consume those items. The participants ability to mand for those items was then tested. In order to determine whether mand responses would emerge following tact training, mand probes were cond ucted in which the food items were placed on the table but the utensil necessary to c onsume the item was withheld. None of the participants requested the missing items until they were directly trained to do so using
5 tact to mand transfer of stim ulus control procedures, in whic h an experimenter held up an item asking What is this and delivered the item contingent upon the correct response. Twyman (1995) investigated the functi onal independence of impure tacts and impure mands involving abstract properties. In this investiga tion, the experimenters sought to determine if training impure mands or tacts of abstract properties (i.e., the whole crayon) would lead to the emergence of the other operant wit hout direct training. The term impure was used to define these verbal operants because multiple controlling variables were present during both the ma nd and tact conditions, thus making the responses part tact and part mand. For exam ple, in the mand condition, the desired item was present and, as a result, the mand respons e could have been partly controlled by the discriminative stimulus. Similarly, in the tact conditions, the pa rticipants were not allowed to engage in a preferred activity unt il they emitted the correct tact response. Thus, the tact response could have functione d as part mand. Presc hoolers identified as having language delays and existing mand and t act repertoires participated in the study. The results indicated that the participants only emitted responses that were directly trained. In other words, participants who were taught to mand the abstract stimulus property (I want the whole cr ayon) did not tact the stimul us property (That is the whole crayon) until after they were trained to do so and vice versa. Although research supports the notion that verbal operants are functionally independent, research in which established ve rbal repertoires can be used to develop other functional repertoires usi ng transfer of stimulus contro l procedures suggests that the verbal operants may be interrelated or functionally interdep endent (Sautter & LeBlanc, 2006). Recently, researchers have investig ated the practical implications of the
6 functional inter-depende nce of the verbal operants to determine whether training procedures designed to establish one verbal operant (i.e., the tact ) can facilitate the emergence of another oper ant (i.e., the mand) (Walla ce, Iwata, & Hanley, 2006). For example, in a systematic replication of Sigafoos et al. (1989), Sigafoos, Reichle, Doss, Hall, and Pettitt (1990) demonstrated that participants with an existing minimal mand repertoire were able to mand for utensils required to consume an item after being taught to tact the utensils. In othe r words, the authors investigated whether a response trained as a tact could spontan eously transfer to a mand response among participants who had an es tablished minimal mand repert oire consisting of a single generalized topography (i.e., pointing to a want sym bol). The authors set up contingencies in which the participants had to mand for the utensils (i.e., spoon, opener, and cup/straw) needed to access the requested food or beverage items. However, all participants already had the ability to use a symbol that se rved as a generalized mand for want. Prior to and following tact tr aining, the researchers assessed whether the children manded for the utensils. The results indicated that af ter tact training two of the three mands appeared without any direct trai ning. These results differed from the results of Sigafoos et al. (1989) and the authors suggested that incl uding participants with an existing generalized mand repertoire ma y accounted for the emergence of mands following tact training. However, these resu lts are both similar to and different from Hall and Sundberg (1987), in that the results also suggest that an existing minimal repertoire may be necessary for generalizati on to occur. With Hall and Sundberg (1987) the relevant factor affecting transfer of function was the number of mands existing in the
7 subjects repertoire prior to the study, whereas with Sigafoos et al. (1989) a previously acquired mand frame may have cont ributed to transfer observed. Petursdottir, Carr, and Michael (2005 ) replicated the study by Lamarre and Holland (1985), who, as discussed earlier, de monstrated the functi onal independence of mands and tacts with typically developing preschool aged children. Petursdottir et al. (2005) investigated the relations of the ma nd and tact by teaching students to complete two 4-piece assembly tasks. They taught childr en to tact the four pieces that comprised one of the assembly tasks and to mand for th e pieces that comprised the other task and then assessed generalizati on across the operants. Results of Petursdottir et al. (2005) di ffered from those of Lamarre and Holland (1985). In fact, results indicated that all of the participants were able to tact items following mand training. Howeve r, tact training proved to ha ve inconsistent effects on the acquisition of mands. Only after subsequent mand training did all of the participants correctly mand for the items. Petursdottir et al. suggest that the us e of discrete objects versus the use of abstract stimulus propertie s (on the left or on the right) as in Lamarre and Holland may have contributed to the different outcomes. Additionally, the authors suggest that the use of the interrupted-chain procedure (withholding pieces necessary to complete a task) may have cont rived an EO during ma nd training and testing which led to the transfer of control from the EO to the S D and vice versa. By contrast, EOs were not under the control of the researchers in the Lamarre and Holland study and may not have been present during mand training and testing. In a similar vein, Wallace et al. (2006) suggested that the conditions under which the training of one operant can facilitate th e emergence of an untrained verbal operant
8 may be related to motivating operations. The authors argued that in many of the studies evaluating the functional inde pendence of the verbal oper ants it is unclear whether motivating operations were present in the mand conditions. For example, in the Lamarre and Holland (1985) study, the experimenters ne ver examined whether placing an item to the left or right actually had any reinforcing va lue for the participants. Some studies have claimed to contrive conditioned motivating operations (CMO) by requiring participants to complete response chains or to request missing items (i.e., utensils) needed to consume a food or beverage item (Hall & Sundberg, 1987; Petursdottir et al., 1989; Sigafoos et al, 1989). Many of these studies argue that c ontriving a CMO ensures that a motivating operation is in effect at the time of training. However, in all the above mentioned studies it was unknown whether completing the chain or receiving a utensil functioned as a reinforcer. In addition, in the Twyman (1995) study there was no indication that the abstract property (whole crayon) of an object served as a reinforcer. Consequently, several of the above menti oned studies failed to provide evidence that the item delivered in the mand test conditi ons actually served as a specific reinforcer for the target response. Theref ore, without the presence of the relevant EO and specific reinforcers during mand tests, it is possible that any potential effect of tact training on the emergence of mands was not observed (Wallace et al., 2006). In short, it is sensible to conclude that in these studies, finding th e functional independence of verbal operants might have been an artifact of the procedures used rather than the nature of the verbal operants themselves. Therefore, Wallace et al. (2006) sought to investigate the func tion of reinforcer strength on the emergence of mands after tact tr aining in adults with mental retardation.
9 The participants had limited vocal behavior and did not readily use verbal behavior (i.e., vocalizations or signs) to obtain desired items. In addition, none of the participants used formal signs to communicate. Preference assessments were used to determine which leisure items were highly preferred and which items held little value. Th e participants were taught to tact all the leisure items (both high preference and lo w preference items) using manual signs. Following tact training, mand tests were initia ted and the results showed that only the tacts of the highly preferred items transferred to mand responses. Providing further evidence that in order for mand responses to emerge, these responses must be evoked under the control of rele vant establishing operations. Thus, the authors demonstrated that the transfer from tact to mand relations was related to the value of the items to be manded. Strategies that promote the transfer fr om one verbal operant to another have practical implications for teaching verbal be havior to children with language delays and would be a valuable instructional tool. Therefore, the current study systematically replicated Wallace et al (2006) with young chil dren with autism. Additionally, this study attempted to extend the Wallace et al. study in fi ve respects: First, the response modality selected for this study was vocal behavior rather than sign. Second, the participants selected for the study had an existing mini mal vocal verbal repe rtoire. Third, the participants in the present study were children diagnosed w ith autism instead of adults with mental retardation. Fourth, a single pure mand probe was conducted in the beginning of every session during both the tact and mand probe conditi ons rather than as a separate condition following the tact acqui sition phase. Fifth, the response form
10 associated with each target item consisted of nonsense words to control for prior learning history and exposure to the labels outside of session.
11 Chapter Two Method Participants and Setting Three children diagnosed with autism sp ectrum disorder, between the ages of 3-5, were selected for this study. Selected part icipants had an existing minimal tact and mand repertoire. These participants also had an existing echoic repertoire. However, participants did not exhibit untrained verbal re sponses that served the tact or mand function. In other words, the participants did not emit tacts or mands that had not been directly trained. Matthew was 4 years 6 months and had been diagnosed with autism in the mild to moderate range. Matthew could fo llow 3-step directions and could remain seated during task situations for long durati ons. He exhibited the ability to mand for both reinforcing activities and items and would o ccasionally mand for information. He also demonstrated the ability to tact the ac tions of others and over 100 common objects, including reinforcers. At the time of the study he was enrolled in a self-contained autism pre-school classroom at his elementary sc hool and was receivi ng 5 hours a week of applied behavior analysis (ABA) services, whic h consisted mainly of language training. Jason was 4 years 5 months and had been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). He was able to follow simple directions and was relatively compliant during instructiona l situations. He ha d poor articulation and would often speak in a low voice tone wh ich served as a barrier to effective
12 communication. Jason demonstrated the ability to mand for preferre d items and activities and the actions of others. He could al so tact over 60 common objects. Jason was receiving ABA and speech therapy services a nd was currently enrolled in a pre-school classroom at the time of the study. Christia n was 3 years 3 months and been recently diagnosed with autism in the mild to moderate range. He could follow some simple directions but had a short attention span and difficulty remaining seated during task situations. He was observed to emit many vocalizations throughout the day and would frequently repeat the vocalizat ions of others. However, many of these vocalizations were echolalic utterances and woul d not always occur under appropriate stimulus conditions. Christians mand and tact repe rtoires were weak but developing. He demonstrated the ability to mand for some of his reinforcers and he could tact a lim ited amount of common objects, many of which were preferred items. He attended pre-school part-time and received 8-hours of ABA services a week when the study was conducted. Sessions were conducted in a center that served children with autism or in the participants homes. At the center, sessions took place in a room containing a table, two chairs, and the materials necessary to conduct the sessions. The sessions that took place at the participants homes were conducted in the participants be drooms. One to two sessions were conducted daily, a minimum of 2 days per week. Materials Materials for this study included a video camera with a tripod to record the sessions as well as other materi als necessary to conduct sessions (a timer, targets items, reinforcers, data sheets, etc.). The stimuli in this study included bot h 1) preferred edible food items used as reinforcers during tact training and 2) lo w preference and high
13 preference leisure items that were used as target items during tact training and mand probes. See Appendix A and B for data sheets to be used during tact training and mand probes. Response Definitions A tact was defined as emitting a correct vocal verbal response when presented with the vocal verbal discriminative stimulus What is it? while the experimenter held up an item. A generalized reinforcer was obtained for emitting the correct tact response. A mand was defined as the participants vocal verbal request for either of the two items available during the mand probe sessions. To control for prior learning history as well as to prevent the participants fr om acquiring the target responses outside of the experimental conditions, nonsense words were assigned to each target item and thus the response forms consisted of nonsense words (i.e., doso) rather than the traditional names of the target items (i.e., Play Pod). Data Collection and Interobserver Agreement The experimenter scored the occurrence of tacts and mands on data sheets during sessions. In addition, all sessi ons were videotaped. Theref ore, interobserver agreement (IOA) was assessed by having an independent ob server score the occurrence of tacts and mands via video recorded sessions during at le ast 75% of tact sessi ons and at least 50% of mand sessions. For tact sessions, an indepe ndent observer scored the occurrence of tact responses and interobserver agreement wa s calculated by dividing the number of agreements by the total number of agreem ents and disagreements and dividing this number by 100%. Agreement for tact sessions averaged 99.8% acros s all participants (range, 99.5% to 100%). For mand sessions, a second observer simultaneously but
14 independently scored the occurrence of mands during 10-s intervals. Scored-interval IOA was utilized to calculate exact agr eement for mand sessions, thus IOA was only based on intervals in which the behaviors we re recorded to occu r by either of the observers. Agreement was calculated by dividing the number of intervals in which both of the observers agreed on the occurrence of the behavior by the tota l number of scored intervals (in which either or both observers recorded the o ccurrence of the behavior). Agreement for mand sessions averaged 96% across all participants (range, 90% to 100%). Preference Assessments Food assessments. Each participants parents and/or trainers were interviewed in order to gather information regarding possi ble reinforcers. Items suggested to be reinforcers for each participant by their parents or trainers were presented in a multiplestimulus without replacement (DeLeon & Iwat a, 1996) assessment. The most preferred (top-ranked) food item was used as a reinforc er during tact traini ng. Food assessments were conducted periodically through out the study to ensure that the most preferred edible items were utilized during t act training. Correct responding to either HP or LP items produced the same reinforcer. Leisure assessments. Items not currently in the pa rticipants mand repertoire and suggested to be reinforcers dur ing parent and/or trainer interviews were presented in a multiple-stimulus without replacement (DeLeon & Iwata, 1996) assessment to determine relative preference for each leisure item. A high-preferen ce (HP) item (top-ranked item) and a low-preference (LP) item (lowest ranked item) were identified as target items to be
15 used during both tact training and mand probes. For each participant, nonsense words were assigned to each HP and LP target items. Experimental Procedure and Design The effect of tact training on the emerge nce of untrained mands was evaluated in a multiple baseline design across participants. Each participant was exposed to a baseline phase followed by tact training for the HP and LP items. Manding was also evaluated during this phase in a pure mand probe conducted prior to each session. Following mastery of the tact responses, the students were exposed to a pos t-tact training impure mand condition to evaluate transfer from t act to mand. For Jason and Christian, an additional phase was added to evaluate potential effects of response restriction on the EO for the LP item. Pre instructional tact probe A series of tact probes was conducted prior to tact training to determine a baseline level of tact performance. Sessions were 10 minutes in length. Each session consisted of 20 trials in which two items were presented one at a time in a semi random order until both items were presented 10 times, with new trials being initiated every 30 s. Duri ng each trial, the experimenter held up either an HP or LP item and asked the participant What is it? Pe rcent correct tacting was recorded. There were no programmed consequences or prompt s delivered for any tact responses emitted during this probe condition. Pre instructional tact probe conditions alternated with mand probe sessions. At least 2 pre instructional tact probe sessions were conducted. Pre instructional mand probe. To determine a baselin e level of manding, mand probes were conducted prior to ta ct training. Sessions were 10 minutes in length. During each session, the experimenter simultaneously placed the HP and LP leisure items on the
16 table in front of the participant. Howeve r, no other prompts or instructions were delivered. If the participant correctly emitte d the vocal response for either item, the experimenter would have deliv ered the specified item. Had the participant manded for the item, he would have been given access to th e item for 30 s, afte r which the item would have been placed back on the table next to the other item. Tact training Tact training sessions were 10 minutes in length, during which the experimenter taught the participants to tact both the HP and LP leisure items from their preference assessments. In a ddition, to determine if mand responses were beginning to occur during tact training, a single 30 s pure mand probe was conducted at the beginning of each tact training session. During the pure mand probes, the target items were hidden from the participants view and the experimenter recorded the occurrence or nonoccurrence of a pure mand response. Th ere were no instructions, programmed consequences, or prompts delivered for any mand responses emitted during this pure mand probe; the experimenter simply record ed the occurrence (or nonoccurrence) of mand responses. After the pure mand probe, ta ct training was initia ted. Tact training consisted of 20 trials in which two items were presented one at a time in a semi random order until both items were presented 10 times, with new trials being initiated every 30 s in the early stages of training and 20 s as prompting on trials was faded. During each trial, the experimenter held up either an HP or LP item and asked the participant What is it? Correct vocal respon ses resulted in the de livery of a piece of the participants preferred food item. Incorre ct responses were followed by an echoic correction procedure (re-pres entation of the item and S D What is it?, and an experimenter vocal model) and the student was required to echo the response. In order to
17 immediately fade the echoic prompts, follo wing the correction pro cedure (for Matthew and Jason) the antecedent was re-presented as a transfer tr ial. The experimenter then waited for the next scheduled trial. If the participant did not respond within 5 s of the delivery of the S D (What is it?), experimenter then conducted the echoic correction procedure described above. A tact was scor ed as correct only if the participant emitted the correct vocal response w ithin 5 s of the verbal S D (What is it?) and prior to any subsequent prompting. The responses were reinforced differentially, in which a prompted response resulted in a smaller amount of the edible reinforcer than did a correct independent response. Tact training was comple te when the particip ant correctly tacted both the HP and LP item on 90% of the trials (with the first trial being correct for both items) over two consecutive sessions. Post instructional impure mand probe. Given that no pure mands occurred during presession mand probes during the tact training condition, a post instructional impure mand probe (in the presence of the target items) was conducted to determine whether participants exhibited targ et responses as impure mands. During these 10 min impure mand probe sessions, the target items were present. However, a pure mand test was also embedded within the impure mand probe to give the partic ipants the opportunity to mand for the target items (HP and LP) without them being displayed during the first 30 s of the session. This pre-session pure mand opportunity was conducted in the same fashion as discussed previously. To ensure that the targ et items were not in the participants view, the experimenter placed both items in a box under the table prior to each session. At the start of each session, th e experimenter sat at the table with the participant but did not deliver any prompts or instructions. If the participant correctly emitted the
18 vocal response for either item, the experi menter delivered the specified item. The participant had access to the item for 30 s, after which the item was placed on the table next to the other item. However, if the pa rticipant did not emit a mand for either item within 30 sec of the start of the session, then the experimenter simultaneously placed the HP and LP leisure items on the table in front of the participant. No other prompts or instructions were delivered during the sessi on. If the participan t correctly emitted the vocal response for either item, the experi menter delivered the specified item. The participant had access to the item for 30 s, after which the item was placed back on the table next to the other item. Post instructional impur e LP/ pure HP mand probe. Given that some participants (Jason and Christian) requested the LP ite m during the post instru ctional impure mand probe, an LP alone probe was implemented to determine if the LP responses would be maintained if the LP item was the only it em available. During these 10 min probe sessions, the LP item was present on the tabl e while the HP item was hidden in a box under the table. Just as with the t act training and impure mand phases, a pure mand test was also embedded within this phase to give the participants the opportunity to mand for the target items (HP and LP) without them being displayed for the first 30 s of the session. To ensure that the target items were not in the participants view, the experimenter placed both items in a box unde r the table prior to each session. Following this, at the start of each session, the experiment er sat at the table w ith the participant but did not deliver any prompts or instructions The LP item was placed on the table while the HP item remained in the box. If the part icipant correctly emitted the vocal response for either item, the experimenter delivered the specified item. The participant had access
19 to the item for 30 s, after which the item was either placed on the table (for the LP item) or back in the box (for the HP item). During this phase, no other prom pts or instructions were delivered. Mands for the HP item were considered pure mands because these vocal responses did not occur in the presence of the HP item. Mand responses for the LP item were considered impure mands because these vocal responses occurred in the presence of the LP item.
20 Chapter Three Results Figures 1 shows the results of leisure pref erence assessments for all 3 participants. Matthews HP and LP leisure items were th e Pin print and Pokmon toys (selected on 100% and 14% of trials respectively), Jasons were also the Pin print and Pokmon toys (selected on 83% and 5% of trials respectiv ely), and Christians were a Play Pod and MP3 player (selected on 73% and 20% of tria ls respectively). Nonsense words were assigned to each target item and thus the re sponse forms for Matthews HP and LP items were doso and boosha re spectively. The re sponse forms for Jasons HP and LP items were doso and beeba respectively. The nonsense words doso and boosha were also assigned to Christia ns HP and LP leisure items. Figure 2 shows the results of the mand probe s and tact training for all participants. During baseline, none of the participants emitte d the correct mand or tact responses. All participants acquired the tact responses for the HP and LP items during tact training within 12 or fewer sessions. During subseque nt mand probes, all participants requested the HP item at high rates (an average rate of 1.6 mands per minute [MPM] for Matthew, 1.0 MPM for Jason, and 1.1 MPM for Christian) and requested the LP item at low rates (an average of 0.01, 0.04, and 0.03 MPM respectively for all three participants). For Jason, manding for the LP item initially increased to 0.8 responses per minute when it was the only item present during the post in structional impure LP/ pure HP mand probe
21 condition. However, LP responses decreased to 0.4 MPM over subsequent sessions. A pure mand for the HP item occurred during the first session of this condition but did not occur during any subsequent sessions. For Christian, during the pos t instructional impure LP/ pure HP mand probe sessions, manding for th e LP item did not increase even though it was the only item present on the table. Christian only requested for the LP item during the first session of this cond ition at a rate of 0.1 responses per minute. During subsequent sessions, Christian resumed manding for the HP item at an average of 0.7 pure MPM. During the third session of this condition, Christian also emitted a pure mand response during the pure mand test at the start of the session. Matthew did not emit any pure mands during the pure mand probes. However, he did engage in impure mand responses for the HP item during tact training. In other words, he only requested for the HP item in the presence of the stimulus.
Christian01234567Play Pod("doso")Tumble TopPokemontoyEtch-a-sketchPin PrintDigi WubbzyMP3 Player("boosha")Leisure ItemsHP LP Jason01234567Pin Print("doso")Play PodEtch-a-sketchDigiWubbzyMP3 PlayerTumble TopPokemontoy("beeba")Ran k HPLP Matthew01234567Pin Print ("doso ") Etch-a-sketc h Rubix cubeTic Tac ToeKaliedescopeDigi WubbzyPokemon toy ("boosha ") HPLP Figure 1. Represents the results of leisure assessments for all three participants (shaded bars represent items taught as tacts). Items are rank ordered. 22
Figure 2. Mands for HP and LP items during mand probes (right scale) and tacts for HP and LP items during tact training (left scale). Dashed down arrows represent sessions in which impure HP mands were emitted during tact training. Solid down arrows represent sessions in which a pure HP mand was emitted during the pure mand tests. 02040608010000.511.52HP Mand LP Mand HP Tact LP Tact Post Instr Impure Mand ProbesTact TrainingBaseline (Pre-Instr. Tact and Mand Probes) Matthew 02040608010000.511.52 Post Instr Impure LP/Pure HP Mand ProbesJason 020406080100161116212631364146515661Sessions00.511.52 Christian Responses Per Min (Mand) % Correct (Tact) 23
24 Chapter Four Discussion The purpose of the present study was to test conditions that resulted in the emergence of untrained mand responses following the acquisition of tact responses for children diagnosed with autism or related disorders. All of the participants acquired vocal responses for both HP and LP items as tacts. The responses taught as tacts transferred to impure mand responses without direct training for the HP items for all participants and occurred at high rates dur ing the initial post instructional impure mand probe conditions. By contrast, impure mand responses for the LP item occurred at low rates for all the participants. These resu lts suggest that the conditions under which training of one operant facilitates the emergence of an untrained verbal operant may be related to motivating operati ons. The findings of this cu rrent investigation provide further support for the results of Wallace et al. (2006) and provide evidence that the results can be extended to other popu lations and response topographies. However, the results of the present study differ from previous research on functional independence in which the tact to mand transfer was not observed (Hall & Sundberg, 1987; Lamarre & Holland, 1985; Siga foos et al., 1989; Twyman, 1995). A possible explanation for the discrepancy in results is that prev ious studies did not manipulate EOs or evaluate motivation while investigating the tran sfer of responses across verbal operants. For example, pr evious studies investigating functional
25 independence failed to provide evidence that th e consequences delivered in the mand test conditions actually served as a specific reinfo rcers for the target res ponse. The presence of a relevant EO is required in order for mand responses to occur. Thus, it is possible that the tact-to-mand transfer failed to occur in prev ious investigations du e to the absence of a relevant establishing operation and specific reinforcers. The results of the preference assess ments conducted in the current study suggested that HP items would function as re inforcers relative to LP items. The data collected throughout this study were consistent with these results suggesting that the transfer between tact and mand relations may be a function of reinforcer strength. In other words, the transfer from tact to mand responses was more likely to occur for items that had reinforcing value to the participants (HP items) than for items that were less preferred (LP items). Nonetheless, the study also identified conditi ons in which LP mand responses were evoked. For example, when th e LP item was the only item present during the post instructional impure LP/pure HP mand probe, Jasons requesting for the LP item increased, however, as expected, manding subsequently decreased overtime. The current study has practical implicatio ns for teaching verbal behavior to children with autism or related disorders. St rategies that promote the transfer from one verbal operant to another would be a valuab le tool for practitioners developing skill acquisition programs for children diagnosed with language delays. Based on the results of this study, practitioners could develop verb al behavior teaching pr ocedures that require less training time or trials than traditional a pproaches to language training. For example, if individuals were taught to t act highly reinforcing stimuli, mands may be more likely to
26 emerge without direct training if those stim uli were available outside of tact training conditions. A potential limitation to the current st udy is the limited number of pure mands that were emitted by the participants throughout the study. All three participants failed to emit a pure mand during the 30 s pure mand probes embedded within each post instructional impure mand probe. In other wo rds, the participants only requested for the HP item when the item was present. Only during the second phase of the study, in which the LP item was present and the HP item wa s hidden, did Jason and Christian began to engage in pure mand responses for the HP item. Thus, it could be argued that the mand responses were partly under the control of the discriminative stimuli instead of solely under the control of the esta blishing operation. However, differential responding (high rates of manding for the HP item and low rates of manding for the LP item) during the post-instructional mand probes indicates that responses that occurred during this condition were under motivational rather, than discriminative control. Additionally, the utilization of a mand frame wh ile requesting for the HP item by some of the participants indicate that the responses f unctioned as mands rather than as tacts. For example, throughout the study Matthew would request th e HP items using the mand frame I want___ or I need. In fact, he began requesting the HP item during tact training using these mand frames as early as the first tact training session. Thus, despite the fact the Matthew never emitted a pure mand response, it is reasonable to suggest that his mand responses were under the contro l of the relevant establishi ng operations rather than the discriminative stimulus. Additionally, it is possible that 30 s may have not been an adequate amount of time to evoke a pure mand response during the pure mand probes
27 occurring prior to the mand and tact sessions. The participants may have emitted pure mands had the pure mand probe been extended. A second potential limitation is the variab ility in the mand responses during the post-instructional impure mand probes for all the participants, especially Jason and Christian. However, given the nature of the establishing operation some variability is expected. In addition, variability may be acc ounted for by the fact that two impure mand probe sessions often occurred on the same day. As a result, manding for the HP items often decreased during the second session in dicating that satiation may have been occurring. For example, during sessions 2 a nd 3 of the post-instru ctional impure mand probe condition, Christian emitted 1.3 and 0.6 MPM respectively. Both sessions occurred on the same day. The authors attempted to am eliorate the effects of satiation by reducing the number of sessions that occurred per day. During this study, differential consequen ces were delivered during mand probe conditions. It could be sugge sted that the delivery of the programmed consequences (access to the HP items) during mand probe s could have possibly served as mand training, which is a potential limitation to the current investig ation. Given this limitation future researchers should i nvestigate the transfer from tacts to mands under mand probe conditions in which no programmed conse quences are delivered following mand responses. Future researchers should also furt her investigate the role motivation plays in the establishment of untrained verbal operant s. For example, future research could evaluate the tact-to-mand tran sfer when participants are und er conditions of deprivation or satiation (Wallace et al., 2006).
28 During the last phase of the current study, LP responses were maintained for Jason but not for Christian. The discrepancy in results is unclear but may be related to relative reinforcer strength. In other words, the LP item selected for Jason may have not functioned as a reinforcer relative to the HP item under conditions in which both the HP and LP items were both present. However, under conditions in which the LP item was the only item available (the last phase of the study) its reinforc ing value may have increased and as a result mands for the LP item increas ed as well. Conversely, for Christian it appears that the presence of the LP item alone was not enough to maintain mand responses and instead seemed to function as an establishing operation that evoked pure mands for the HP item. However, is quite possible that Christians manding for the LP item may have increased if items less preferred than the LP item were also available. Given the discrepant results, future research is warranted to further investigate conditions under which LP responses could be maintained. Future research should also investigat e the role pre-existing mand and tact repertoires may play in the transfer from tact to mand relations. Both Hall and Sundberg (1987) and Sigafoos et al. ( 1989) suggest that a pre-existing minimal mand repertoire may be necessary for the tact-to-mand transfer to occur. Given that a ll of the participants in the current study had a pr e-existing minimal tact a nd mand repertoire, it may be necessary to determine how a pre-existi ng mand frame or how the number of mands acquired prior to tact trai ning will effect emergence of untrained mand responses. In addition, with the findings of this study and that of Wallace et al. (2006), further investigation into the functi onal independence of the other verbal operants (echoics, intraverbals, etc.) is warranted. This curre nt study only evaluated the mand and tact
29 relations. However, it is likely that transfer could occur among the other verbal operants as well. For example, it is possible that there exist conditions (that are yet to be identified) under which the establishment of in traverbals could lead to the emergence of other untrained operants.
30 References DeLeon, I. G., & Iwata, B. A. (1996). Eval uation of a multiple-stimulus presentation format for assessing reinforcer preferences. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 29, 519-533. Fisher, W., Piazza, C.C., Bowman, L. G., Hago pian, L. P., Owens, J. C., & Slevin I. (1992). A comparison of two approaches for identifying reinforcers for persons with severe and profound disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 25, 491-498. Hall, G., & Sundberg, M. L. (1987). Teach ing mands by manipulating conditioned establishing operations. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior 5, 41-53. Lamarre, J., & Holland, J. G. (1985). The func tional independence of mands and tacts. Journal of the Experiment al Analysis of Behavior 43, 5-19. Michael, J. (1988). Establishing operations and the mand. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 6 3-9. Michael, J. (1993). Establishing operations. The Behavior Analyst, 16 191-206. Petursdottir, A. I., Carr, J. E., & Michael, J. (2005). Emergence of mands and tacts of novel objects among preschool children. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior 21, 59 74. Savage-Rumbaugh, Rumbaugh, Smith, & Laws on (1980). Reference: The linguistic essential. Science 210, 922-925.
31 Sautter, R. A., & LeBlanc, L. A. (2006). Empirical applications of Skinners analysis of verbal behavior with humans. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 22, 35-48. Sigafoos, J., Doss, S., & Reichle, J. ( 1989). Developing mand and tact repertoires in persons with severe developmental disabilities using graphic symbols. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 10 183-200. Sigafoos, J., Reichle, J., Doss, S., Hall, K., & Pettit, L. (1990). S pontaneous transfer of stimulus control from tact to mand contingencies. Research in Developmental Disabilities 11, 165-176. Skinner, B. F. (1957). Verbal behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Sundberg, M. L. (2007). Verbal behavior. In J. O. Cooper, T. E. Heron, & W. L. Heward, Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.) (pp. 526-547). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall. Sundberg, M. L., & Partington, J. W. (1998). Teaching language to children with autism or other developmental disabilities. Pleas ant Hill, CA: Behavior Analysts, Inc. Twyman, J. S. (1996). The functional inde pendence of impure mands and tacts of abstract stimulus properties. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 13, 1. Wallace, M. D., Iwata, B. A., & Hanley, G. F. (2006). Establishment of mands following tact training as a functio n of reinforcer strength. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 39 17-24.
33 Appendix A: Tact Training Data Sheet Participant: Date: Time: Observer ___________ Primary: Reli: Session: Pure Mand: Y or N Percent correct: % HP: % LP: Trial 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Target Item HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP Yes/No Trial 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Target Item HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP Yes/No Participant: Date: Time: Observer ___________ Primary: Reli: Session: Pure Mand: Y or N Percent correct: % HP: % LP: Trial 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Target Item HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP Yes/No Trial 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Target Item HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP Yes/No Participant: Date: Time: Observer ___________ Primary: Reli: Session: Pure Mand: Y or N Percent correct: % HP: % LP: Trial 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Target Item HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP Yes/No Trial 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Target Item HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP HP LP Yes/No
Appendix B: Mand Test Data Sheet Pure Mand Emitted During Pure Mand Probe: Yes or No Interval # 1 2 3 4 5 6 Min 1 :00-:10 :10-:20 :20-:30 :30-:40 :40-:50 :50-1:00 HP LP Interval # 7 8 9 10 11 12 Min 2 1:00-1:10 1:10-1:20 1:20-1:30 1:30-1:40 1:40-1:50 1:50-2:00 HP LP Interval # 13 14 15 16 17 18 Min 3 2:00-2:10 2:10-2:20 2:20-2:30 2:30-2:40 2:40-2:50 2:50-3:00 HP LP Interval # 19 20 21 22 23 24 Min 4 3:00-3:10 3:10-3:20 3:20-3:30 3:30-3:40 3:40-3:50 3:50-4:00 HP LP Interval # 25 26 27 28 29 30 Min 5 4:00-4:10 4:10-4:20 4:20-4:30 4:30-4:40 4:40-4:50 4:50-5:00 HP LP Interval # 31 32 33 34 35 36 Min 6 5:00-5:10 5:10-5:20 5:20-5:30 5:30-5:40 5:40-5:50 5:50-6:00 HP LP Interval # 37 38 39 40 41 42 Min 7 6:00-6:10 6:10-6:20 6:20-6:30 6:30-6:40 6:40-6:50 6:50-7:00 HP LP Interval # 43 44 45 46 47 48 Min 8 7:00-7:10 7:10-7:20 7:20-7:30 7:30-7:40 7:40-7:50 7:50-8:00 HP LP Interval # 49 50 51 52 53 54 Min 9 8:00-8:10 8:10-8:20 8:20-8:30 8:30-8:40 8:40-8:50 8:50-9:00 HP LP Interval # 55 56 57 58 59 60 Min 10 9:00-9:10 9:10-9:20 9:20-9:30 9:30-9:40 9:40-9:50 9:50-10:00 HP LP 34
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Studying the effects of motivation on the emergence of untrained verbal operants
h [electronic resource] /
by Alysia Gilliam.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 34 pages.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: In Skinner's (1957) analysis of verbal behavior, the tact and mand are suggested to be functionally independent verbal operants. Many studies evaluating the verbal operants have provided results consistent with Skinner's notion of functional independence. For example, previous studies have yielded results showing that responses taught as tacts failed to emerge as mands unless they were directly trained as such. However, in many of the studies evaluating the functional independence of the verbal operants it is unclear whether the mand conditions were designed to actually evaluate that response function. The current study replicated and extended the findings of Wallace, Iwata, and Hanley (2006), who empirically demonstrated conditions that facilitated the transfer from tact to mand relations. Students in the current study were taught to tact both high preference and low preference items and were subsequently assessed on their ability to mand for those items. Responses taught as tacts transferred to mand responses without direct training for the high preference items only. These results suggest that the conditions under which training of one operant facilitates the emergence of an untrained verbal operant may be related to motivating operations.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
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Advisor: Timothy Weil, Ph.D.
x Child and Family Studies
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.