Establishing and generalizing audience control of new language repertoires

Kenneth Silverman, Stephen R. Anderson, Ann M. Marshall, Donald M. Baer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In each of two experiments, two teachers, Teachers 1 and 2, taught subjects to respond to requests for the opposites of several different spoken words with answers from one of two different response repertoires, Repertoires 1 and 2. In the main experiment, two retarded adolescents and one normal 4-year-old served as subjects. Teachers 1 and 2 were puppets. Two other puppets, prober-puppets, never taught the subject to respond to those questions about opposites. Through visual-visual matching-to-sample, auditory-visual matching-to-sample, and oral-naming teaching, two classes of puppets were established. One of the classes contained Teacher 1 and one prober-puppet, Prober A. The other contained Teacher 2 and the other prober-puppet, Prober B. The formation of those classes was demonstrated on unreinforced probe trials in which the two prober-puppets asked the subjects the questions about opposites previously taught by the Teachers 1 and 2. On those trials, Prober A was responded to with Repertoire-1 responses (taught by Teacher 1) and Prober B was responded to with Repertoire-2 responses (taught by Teacher 2). Subsequent replications (two with the adolescents and one with the 4-year-old) reversed the teacher-prober classes through matching-to-sample and oral-naming teaching and found similar results. In a second experiment, normal adults served as Teachers 1 and 2. A retarded adolescent was the subject. Matching relations were not established in this study. Instead, generalization of Repertoire 1 or 2 to a third person, the Teacher-Prober, was produced by having the Teacher-Prober teach only portions of Repertoires 1 or 2, respectively. Apparently, the Teacher-Prober could form a stimulus class with a particular teacher by teaching only some of the same responses as that teacher. These experiments show the kinds of reinforcement contingencies that can establish stimulus classes of listeners and thereby enable language repertoires to generalize across those listeners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-40
Number of pages20
JournalAnalysis and Intervention In Developmental Disablities
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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