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Comparison of Bidirectional Verbal Operants between People, Bidirectional Self-Talk, and Bidirectional Naming

Yoon, Sangeun

I conducted a descriptive study consisting of 30 preschool participants with and without disabilities to examine the relation between the 3 bidirectional operants. The bidirectional operants were speaker-as-own-listener cusps, which included bidirectional verbal operants between people, bidirectional self-talk conversational units, and Bidirectional Naming (BiN).

Using previously recorded videos of 10-min of social play (between-people condition) and 10-min of isolated fantasy play (self-talk condition), I recorded each instance of verbal behavior as a vocal initiation (VI), a non-vocal initiation (NI), a vocal response (VR), and a non-vocal response (NR). These initial recordings were further analyzed into the number of unidirectional and bidirectional verbal operants between people, unidirectional and bidirectional self-talk, single topography verbal behaviors, multiple topography verbal behaviors, missed opportunities, initiations, responses, and numbers of verbal episodes. The data collection procedure consisted of identifying each instance of verbal behavior during the between-people and self-talk fantasy play conditions and identifying the rotation in the participant’s role as a speaker and a listener within the verbal episodes to measure the social reinforcement function. For BiN, I measured the number of untaught listener responses (10 selection responses) and the number of untaught speaker responses (10 tact and 10 intraverbal responses) with familiar and unfamiliar novel stimuli following a naming experience in which the participants received 20 opportunities to hear the names of 5 novel stimuli while observing the pictures of the stimuli. Data were statistically analyzed using parametric and nonparametric analyses with Bonferroni corrected p-value. The results of the study were as follow: (1) the participants’ demographic characteristics were independent of their demonstrations of the three bidirectional operants, (2) BiN with unfamiliar stimuli was related to the participants’ emission of the bidirectional verbal operants between people, (3) the components of BiN and the bidirectional self-talk conversational units were independent but the results are inconclusive, (4) the unidirectional verbal operants between people were related to the bidirectional self-talk conversational units, and (5) the participants’ additional communicative verbal behaviors (i.e., vocal and non-vocal verbal behaviors, single and multiple topographies verbal behaviors, initiations, and responses) were independent of their degrees of BiN. The analyses of data suggested that there may be an underlying social reinforcement that is shared amongst the three bidirectional operants. Some may be more observable, such as the shared social reinforcement function between the bidirectional verbal operants between people and BiN with unfamiliar stimuli; whereas some may be less observable, as it may be manifested in a form of an audience control rather than social reinforcement function. Thus, the current study adds to the existing literature on verbal development as it shows the relation between the three bidirectional operants and the importance of social reinforcement not only to engage in conversation with others but to learn names of new unfamiliar objects or to come under audience control.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Applied Behavior Analysis
Thesis Advisors
Greer, Robert D.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 4, 2019