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Examining the Additive Effects of Individually Assessed Verbal Stimuli on Cooperative Responding Under a Financially Neutral Pay Contingency
AdvisorHoumanfar, Ramona A.
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AbstractVerbal behavior (language) is the primary characteristic that separates humans from all other animal species. The influence of language on behavior manifests primarily as antecedent factors within a behavior/environment relationship often impacting multiple individuals (Houmanfar, R., Rodrigues, N.J., & Smith, G.S., 2009). Foundational to behavior science is that behavior is a function of an organism's learning history, genetic endowment, and the current environmental context. According to Relational Frame Theory (RFT), verbal behavior is no exception. One product of language, as posited via RFT, is the motivative augmental. Motivative augmentals are “verbal stimuli which momentarily increase the effectiveness of an established reinforcer or punisher” (Hayes et al., 2004, p. 206). In an attempt to isolate and analyze the concept of motivative augmental, we assessed the additive effect of systematically selected verbal stimuli on cooperative responding in an analog data-entry work task within the context of a neutral financial contingency. The Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) was used to individually-assess the top four cooperative stimuli selected via a SONA survey of 355 undergraduate students. These stimuli were then introduced into an analog work task. Results suggest differential responding to motivational statements across participants with a higher differential responding during the 1st three trials in each condition which maps on to the temporal nature of a motivative augmental. Furthermore, IRAP valence measures correlate with cooperative responding rates across participants and stimuli. Tobii eye tracking measures also indicate that fixation count and duration correlate with responding choice in the data entry task.