Skip to main content
Log in

Learning through observation: The effects of peer modeling on acquisition and generalization in autistic children

  • Published:
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to systematically determine whether lowfunctioning autistic children [MA of approximately half of their CA or less] could learn through observation by the use of a peer modeling procedure. Since modeling is less structured than traditional one-on-one procedures, it was also thought that modeling might facilitate subsequent generalization of tasks learned through observation. Four autistic children were taught two receptive labeling tasks. One task was taught by a traditional trial and error procedure, while the other task was taught by a modeling procedure wherein the models were other autistic children. Results indicated that all four children learned through observation of their peer model. Additionally, generalization and maintenance of correct responding were superior when the children learned through observation rather than by trial and error. These results are discussed in terms of the modeling literature, generalization issues, and implications for designing teaching settings for autistic children.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Apolloni, T., Cooke, S. A., & Cooke, T. P. Establishing a normal peer as a behavioral model for developmentally delayed toddlers.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1976,43, 1155–1162.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bandura, A. Influence of model's reinforcement contingencies on acquisition of imitative responses.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1965,1, 589–595.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bandura, A., Grusec, J. E., & Menlove, F. L. Vicarious extinction of avoidance behavior.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1967,5, 16–23.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bandura, A., & Kupers, C. J. Transmission of patterns of self reinforcement through modeling.Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1964,69, 1–9.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bandura, S., & Walters, R.Social learning and personality development. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1963.

    Google Scholar 

  • Barry, N. J., & Overman, P. B. Comparison of the effectiveness of adult and peer models with EMR children.American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 1977,82, 33–36.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clark, B. S. The acquisition and extinction of peer imitation in children.Psychonomic Science, 1965,2, 147.

    Google Scholar 

  • Coleman, S. L., & Stedman, J. M. Use of a peer model in language training in an echolalic child.Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 1974,5, 275–279.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cuvo, A. L., Klevans, L., Borakove, S., Borakove, L. S., Van Landuyt, J., & Lutzker, J. R. A comparison of three strategies for teaching object names.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1980,13, 249–257.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cuvo, A. J., & Riva, M. T. Generalization and transfer between comprehension and production: A comparison of retarded and nonretarded persons.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1980,13, 315–331.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dunlap, G., & Koegel, E. L. Motivating autistic children through stimulus variation.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1980,13, 619–627.

    Google Scholar 

  • Egel, A. L., Richman, G., & Koegel, R. L. Normal peer models and autistic children's learning.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1981,14, 3–12.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gellermann, L. W. Chance orders at alternating stimuli in visual discrimination experiments.Journal of Genetic Psychology, 1933,42, 206–208.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hartup, W. W., & Coates, B. Imitation of a peer as a function of reinforcement from the peer group and rewardingness of the model.Child Development, 1967,38, 1003–1016.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hewett, F. M. Teaching speech to autistic children through operant conditioning.American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1965,35, 927–936.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hicks, D. J. Imitation and retention of film-mediated aggressive peer and adult models.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1965,2, 97–100.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kanner, L. Autistic disturbances of affective contact.Nervous Child, 1943,2, 217–250.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kazdin, A. Covert modeling, model similarity and reduction of avoidance behavior.Behavior Therapy, 1974,5, 325–340.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koegel, R. L., & Rincover, A. Research on the differences between generalization and maintenance in extra-therapy responding.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1977,10, 1–12.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kornhaber, R. C., & Schroeder, H. E. Importance of model similarity on extinction of avoidance behavior in children.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1975,5, 601–607.

    Google Scholar 

  • Metz, J. R. Conditioning generalized peer imitation in autistic children.Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 1966,2, 389–399.

    Google Scholar 

  • O'Connor, R. D. Motivation of social withdrawal through symbolic modeling.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1969,2, 15–22.

    Google Scholar 

  • Peterson, C., Peterson, J., & Scriven, G. Peer imitation by nonhandicapped and handicapped preschoolers.Exceptional Children, 1977,43, 223–224.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rauer, S. A., Coole, T. P., & Apolloni, T. Developing nonretarded toddlers as verbal models for retarded classmates.Child Study Journal, 1978,8, 1–8.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rimland, B.Infantile autism. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1964.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ritvo, E. R., & Freeman, B. J. National Society for Autistic Children definition of the syndrome of autism.Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia, 1978,8, 139–161.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rosekrans, M. A. Imitation in children as a function of perceived similarity to a social model and vicarious reinforcement.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1967,7, 307–315.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rutter, M. Diagnosis and definition of childhood autism.Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia, 1978,8, 139–161.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schroeder, G. L., & Baer, D. M. Effects of concurrent and serial training on generalized vocal imitation in retarded children.Developmental Psychology, 1972,6, 293–301.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stokes, T. F., & Baer, D. M. An implicit technology of generalization.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1977,10, 349–367.

    Google Scholar 

  • Varni, J. W., Lovaas, O. I., Koegel, R. L., & Everett, N. L., An analysis of observational learning in autistic and normal children.Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 1979,7, 31–43.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wing, L. Diagnosis, clinical description, and prognosis. In L. Wing (Ed.),Early childhood autism. London: Pergamon Press, 1976.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wing, L. Social, behavioral, and cognitive characteristics: An epidemiological approach. In M. Rutter & E. Schopler (Eds.),Autism: A reappraisal of concepts and treatment. New York: Plenum Press, 1978.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Additional information

This research was supported by USPHS Research Grants MH 28231 and MH 29210 from the National Institute of Mental Health. The authors would like to acknowledge Paul Lizotte for his assistance.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Charlop, M.H., Schreibman, L. & Tryon, A.S. Learning through observation: The effects of peer modeling on acquisition and generalization in autistic children. J Abnorm Child Psychol 11, 355–366 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00914244

Download citation

  • Revised:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00914244

Keywords

Navigation