Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Emergence of Complex Intraverbals Determined by Simpler Intraverbals

Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Emergence of Complex Intraverbals Determined by Simpler Intraverbals

Article excerpt

Intraverbals are verbal operants characterized by the emission of a verbal response after the presentation of a verbal stimulus that shows no point-to-point correspondence with the response (Skinner 1957). Intraverbals are ubiquitous in everyday life, especially in the context of social interactions such as conversations, songs, stories, plays, etc., and in most academic skills (e.g., saying the alphabet, counting or answering utterances like, "What is your name," "Name the opposite of dark"). In addition, more sophisticated verbal skills, like answering questions about what one did on the weekend, or telling what utensils are used for making soup, also involve intraverbals. Intraverbals can be taught via transfer-of-stimulus-control procedures in which echoic, tact, or textual prompts are presented (e.g., Axe 2008; Braam and Poling 1983; Finkel and Williams 2001; Ingvarsson et al. 2007, 2012; Ingvarsson and Hollobaugh 2010; Luciano 1986; Miguel et al. 2005; Partington and Bailey 1993; Sundberg et al. 1990; Sundberg and Sundberg 1990; Vedora et al. 2009; Vignes 2007; Watkins et al. 1989--see reviews by Axe 2008 and Cihon 2007) or brought about with other teaching strategies (e.g., Greer et al. 2005; Kisamore et al. 2011; Sautter et al. 2011). Moreover, the functional independence of intraverbals and other verbal operants such as tacts have been demonstrated (Goldsmith et al. 2007; Kelley et at. 2007; Lerman et al. 2005; Miguel et al. 2005); these studies were conducted after the seminal paper by Lamarre and Holland (1985) in which these authors demonstrated the functional independence of mands and tacts.

The emergence of novel intraverbals by transfer of stimulus control from stimuli of non-intraverbal operants (i.e., echoics, tacts, etc.) has been widely demonstrated in studies that have often been analyzed in terms of categorization skills (e.g., Braam and Poling 1983; Chase et al. 1985; Luciano 1986; Partington and Bailey 1993; Perez-Gonzalez and Belloso-Diaz 2005; Perez-Gonzalez et al. 2006; Petursdottir et al. 2008a; Sundberg and Sundberg 1990; and Watkins et at. 1989). The teaching of tact and listener repertories has also led to the emergence of novel intraverbals (Perez-Gonzalez and Belloso-Diaz 2005; Perez-Gonzalez et al. 2006; Petursdottir et al. 2008a, b; Petursdottir and Haflidadottir 2009). Transfer among intraverbals has been also demonstrated (e.g., Perez-Gonzalez et al. 2007, 2013; Petursdottir et al. 2008a, b; Polson and Parsons 2000). Most of these studies demonstrated that the procedure of teaching and probing verbal operants with several exemplars results in the eventual emergence, without explicit teaching, of other untaught operants (e.g., Perez-Gonzalez et al. 2007).

Perez-Gonzalez et al. (2008) used a variation of the stimulus equivalence paradigm with intraverbals. The main purpose of their study was teaching and probing intraverbals with the ABC structure, typical of the stimulus equivalence paradigm, in which three stimulus sets are related and novel relations are probed; they used the linear series teaching structure (e.g., Saunders and Green 1999). Thus, they taught A-B and B-C and probed B-A (as in symmetry), C-B (as in symmetry), A-C (as in transitivity), and C-A (as in an equivalence probe). For teaching the A-B relations, they used intraverbals such as, "Name a city of Argentina"--"Buenos Aires" (were A1 is "Argentina" and B1 is "Buenos Aires") and for teaching the BC relations they used intraverbals such as, "Name a park of Buenos Aires"--"El Botanico" (where B1 is "Buenos Aires" and Cl is "El Botanico"). It is important to notice that an additional stimulus (besides one stimulus A and one stimulus B, for example) seems necessary in order to get the answer of the category required. If not, a stimulus would always evocate the same response; for example, the stimulus "Argentina" would always evocate "Buenos Aires" as response; thus, if "Argentina"- "Buenos Aires" is taught, then there is no way to probe other relations other than A-B, with A as the antecedent stimulus. …

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