Advertisement

The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 21–37 | Cite as

The role of automatic reinforcement in early language acquisition

  • Mark L. Sundberg
  • Jack Michael
  • James W. Partington
  • Cindy A. Sundberg
Article

Abstract

The vocal behavior of five children was recorded and analyzed during pre- and post-pairing conditions. Between these conditions there was a pairing condition where a target sound, word, or phrase was paired with an established form of reinforcement (e.g., tickling). In the first experiment all of the children emitted the targeted responses during the post-pairing condition. The results showed that the children acquired new vocal and verbal responses by pairing neutral stimuli with established forms of conditioned or unconditioned reinforcement. Perhaps the most significant aspect of these results was that new vocal responses were acquired by the children without the use of direct reinforcement, echoic training, or prompts. In the second experiment several parameters of the pairing procedure were examined. The results of the two experiments have implications for the analysis of native language acquisition, and for the development of language intervention procedures for individuals who fail to acquire language.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bijou, S.W., & Baer, D.M. (1965). Child Development II: Universal stage of infancy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  2. Braine, M. D. S. (1963). The ontogeny of English phrase structure: The first phrase. Language, 39, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown, R. (1973). A first language: The early stages. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chomsky, N. (1959). A review of B. F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior. Language, 35, 26–58.Google Scholar
  5. Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of theory and syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  6. de Villiers, J. G., & de Villiers, P. A. (1978). Language acquisition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Ervin-Tripp, S. (1964). Imitation and structural change in children’s language. In E. H. Lenneberg (Ed.), New directions in the study of language, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  8. Hart B., & Risley T. R. (1995). Meaningful differences. Baltimore: Paul H. Brooks.Google Scholar
  9. Lenneberg, E. H. (1967). The biological basis of language. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  10. Lovaas, I., Newsom, C., & Hickman, C. (1987). Self-stimulatory behavior and perceptual reinforcement. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 20, 45–68.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. McNeill, D. (1970). The acquisition of language. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  12. Miller, N. E., & Dollard, J. (1941). Social learning and imitation. New Haven, CN: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Mowrer, O. H. (1950). Learning theory and personality dynamics. New York: The Ronald Press Company.Google Scholar
  14. Neisser, U. (1976). Cognition and reality. San Francisco: Freeman.Google Scholar
  15. Novak, G. (1996). Developmental psychology: Dynamical systems and behavior analysis. Reno, NV: Context Press.Google Scholar
  16. Osgood, C. E. (1953). Method and theory in experimental psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Palmer, D. C. (1996). Achieving parity: The role of automatic reinforcement. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 65, 289–290.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Piaget, J. (1951). Play, dreams, and imitation in childhood. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  19. Pinker, S. (1994). The language instinct: How the mind creates language. New York: William Morrow & Company.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rheingold, H. L., Gewirtz, J. L., & Ross, H. W. (1959). Social conditioning of vocalizations in the infant. Journal of Comparative and General Psychology, 52, 68–73.Google Scholar
  21. Savage-Rumbaugh, E. S., Murphy, J., Sevcik, R. A., Brakke, K. E., Williams., S. L., & Rumbaugh, D. M. (1993). Language comprehension in ape and child. Monographs for the Society for Research in Child Development, 58, 1–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Schlinger, H. D., Jr. (1995). The behavior-analytic view of child development. New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Skinner, B. F. (1935). The generic nature of the concepts of stimulus and response. Journal of General Psychology, 12, 40–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Skinner, B. F. (1957). Verbal behavior. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts,CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Slobin, D. I. (1979). Psycholinguistics. Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman and Company.Google Scholar
  26. Spradlin, J. E. (1966). Environmental factors and the language development of retarded children. In S. Rosenberg (Ed.), Developments in applied psycholinguist research, (261–290). Riverside, NJ: The MacMillan Company.Google Scholar
  27. Staats, A. W., & Staats, C. K. (1963). Complex human behavior: A systematic extension of learning principles. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Vaughan, M. E., & Michael, J. L. (1982). Automatic reinforcement: An important but ignored concept. Behaviorism 10, 217–227.Google Scholar
  29. Whitehurst, G. J., & Vasta, R. (1975). Is language acquired through imitation? Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 1975, 4, 37–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wolff, P. H. (1969). The natural history of crying and other vocalizations in early infancy. In B. M. Foss (Ed.), Determinants of infant behavior (Vol. 4). London: Methuen.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark L. Sundberg
    • 1
  • Jack Michael
    • 2
  • James W. Partington
    • 3
  • Cindy A. Sundberg
    • 4
  1. 1.Behavior Analysts, Inc.DanvilleUSA
  2. 2.Western Michigan UniversityUSA
  3. 3.Behavior Analysts, Inc.USA
  4. 4.Independent Living Services, UnlimitedUSA

Personalised recommendations