Research has shown that reinforcing novel behaviors can increase the number of different ways that an individual behaves (Goetz & Baer, 1973; Pryor, Haag, & O’Reilly, 1969). However, it was not until more recently that researchers began to consider variability to be a reinforceable operant in and of itself (Neuringer, 2002). More specifically, Neuringer suggested that variability can be taught using a Lag x schedule of reinforcement, in which x refers to the number of previous responses from which the current response must differ in order for reinforcement to occur (Page & Neuringer, 1985). The purpose of the present study was to extend one of the first studies of a Lag x schedule on verbal responses with human subjects (Lee, McComas, & Jawor, 2002), by increasing the lag criteria while attempting to address some of methodological limitations of the study. The participant was a 7-year-old male with autism. A changing criterion design was used and results showed that 3 novel responses were acquired and varied according to the lag schedule of reinforcement.
autism intraverbal lag schedule of reinforcement variability
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