Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Jacob L. Gewirtz

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Martha Pelaez-Nogueras

Third Advisor's Name

Michael Markham

Fourth Advisor's Name

Scott Fraser

Date of Defense



The term "vicarious reinforcement" has been used by social-learning theorists to denote imitation that results from the observed reinforcement of behavior performed by a model. This conceptualization is incompatible with that of behavior analysis because it ignores the effect of prior learning on the observer's behavior and violates the definition of reinforcement. Experiment 1 replicated prior findings. Preschool children (N=32) imitated a model's reinforced choice responses, in the absence of direct experience with contingencies. In Experiment 2 (N=48), subjects failed to imitate reinforced modeled behavior when observed behavior contingencies were 'incongruent' with those experienced. The results were interpreted as consistent with the behavior-analytic position that observed reinforcement of a model's behavior functions as a discriminative cue (SD), not reinforcement, for the observer's imitative responses.



Included in

Psychology Commons



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