We conducted 2 experiments on the effects of establishing conditioned reinforcement for adult attention on the initiation and continuation of vocal verbal operants with adults by 3- and 4-year-olds. Designs for both experiments consisted of pre- and postintervention functional analyses of attention as a reinforcer for learning (multiple baseline) and maintenance (reversal), as well as the target participants’ initiations of verbal behavior. In the first experiment we tested whether intensive tact instruction established adult attention as a reinforcer for the tasks and whether it affected the initiation of verbal operants. Experiment 2 procedures were the same as Experiment 1 with 3 similar children, but the intervention was an observational procedure that established attention as a reinforcer. In both experiments, the children’s initiation and continuation of social verbal episodes increased following the interventions because each intervention established adult social attention as a reinforcer. The findings suggest that the establishment of adult social attention as a reinforcer under social learning conditions is key to increases in children’s interest (i.e., reinforcement value) in speaking to and listening to others. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

Share This