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Differential Reinforcement in Simple Discrimination Learning in 10- to 20-Month-Old Toddlers

Abstract

The present study examined two procedures for teaching simple discrimination to six toddlers aged 10- to 20-months. A pair of toys was displayed in the windows of an automated apparatus in each training session. Touching the S+ toy window allowed access to the toy and playing with it. Touching the S toy window produced closure of both windows and the end of the trial. The two procedures varied in exposing the participants to differential reinforcement. In Procedure A, the first choice was always incorrect. In Procedure B, the first four trials were alternating forced choices of the S+ and S. The participants were trained in 10 to 12 discrimination problems. Four toddlers learned four to six problems with both the procedures. The procedures reported in the present study may be applicable to teaching effectively discriminative repertoires to toddlers, older children, and adults with low verbal repertoires.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. Following Feller (1968), the probability of not obtaining c consecutive heads (or equally, tails) when tossing a coin n times [let us call this probability P(n; c)] can be approximated by

    $$ P\left(n,c\right)=\frac{ Bc}{A{c}^{n+1}}, $$

    where Bc and Ac are called Feller’s coin tossing constants and are defined in the following way: Ac is the smallest positive real root of the polynomial

    $$ {x}^{c+1}-{2}^{c+1}x+{2}^{c+2}=0 $$

    and

    $$ Bc=\frac{2- Ac}{c+1-c\times Ac}. $$

    Therefore, the probability of obtaining c consecutive heads in n independent tosses of a fair coin is approximately

    $$ 1-P\left(n,c\right). $$

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by a doctoral grant from FAPESP (no. 10/15602-8) to the first author. All of the authors are currently affiliated with the Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia sobre Comportamento, Cognição e Ensino, supported by FAPESP (grant no. 08/57705-8) and CNPq (grant no. 573972/2008-7), which provided support for the preparation of this manuscript. The authors thank Thaise Löhr for her help with data collection, Raúl Oset Sinha for his mathematical assistance, and Olavo Galvão and other anonymous reviewers for their criticisms that improved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Naiara Minto de Sousa.

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Minto de Sousa, N., Garcia, L.T. & Gil, M.S.C.d.A. Differential Reinforcement in Simple Discrimination Learning in 10- to 20-Month-Old Toddlers. Psychol Rec 65, 31–40 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40732-014-0081-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40732-014-0081-4

Keywords

  • Simple discrimination
  • Differential reinforcement
  • Toddlers