The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 153–169 | Cite as

The Role of Modeling and Automatic Reinforcement in the Construction of the Passive Voice

  • Anhvinh N. Wright


Language acquisition has been a contentious topic among linguists, psycholinguists, and behaviorists for decades. Although numerous theories of language acquisition have surfaced, none have sufficiently accounted for the subtleties of the language that children acquire. The present study attempts to explain the role of modeling and automatic reinforcement in the acquisition of the passive voice. Six children, ages 3 to 5, participated in this study. The results indicated that the children began using the passive voice only after the experimenter modeled passive sentences. Furthermore, the usage of the passive voice increased with repeated exposure to the experimenter’s verbal behavior. Given that the children were not explicitly reinforced, it is proposed that their behavior was automatically reinforced for using the passive voice.

Key words

verbal behavior modeling automatic reinforcement joint control 


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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anhvinh N. Wright
    • 1
  1. 1.Fairfax County Public SchoolsFairfaxUSA

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