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An Examination of the Contribution of Self-Stimulation on the Recall of Elementary Verbal Operants
AdvisorHayes, Linda J.
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Skinner’s (1957) Verbal Behavior has made an impactful contribution to the analysis of verbal behavior in the field of behavior analysis. One noteworthy contribution has been the functional analysis of elementary verbal operants, which include copying text, echoic, taking dictation, textual, and intraverbal operants. However, compared to mands and tacts, these elementary verbal operants are arguably understudied, especially in controlled laboratory settings. Given that verbal operants such as these are considered to be socially significant behaviors for effectively behaving in verbal communities, it may be beneficial to account for often overlooked participating factors related to complex verbal interactions. An empirical analysis of self-stimulation as defined by responding to one’s own stimulus response products in the present study appears to be lacking in the current body of behavior analytic literature. The purpose of this study sought to address this gap by investigating the participation of self-stimulation among verbal operants exhibiting point-to-point correspondence and formal similarity. In the pilot experiment, undergraduate students completed a series of trials in which they (1) performed a response of one of the following verbal operants in which access to response products were unmasked and masked: copying text, echoic, textual, or taking dictation, (2) completed a distractor task, and (3) recalled the initial target response in an intraverbal test. The subsequent online thesis experiment followed a similar set of procedures while accounting for limitations in the pilot experiment, but focused solely on copying text and taking dictation verbal operants. Results of the present study not only suggest that intraverbal performances were not differentially related to accessing stimulus response products between copying text and taking dictation verbal operants but that self-stimulation is functionally related to intraverbal recall upon which reinforcement is contingent.