Vicarious reinforcement is a result of earlier learning


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\u27s behavior and violates the definition of reinforcement. Experiment 1 replicated prior findings. Preschool children (N=32) imitated a model\u27s 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 \u27incongruent\u27 with those experienced. The results were interpreted as consistent with the behavior-analytic position that observed reinforcement of a model\u27s behavior functions as a discriminative cue (SD), not reinforcement, for the observer\u27s imitative responses

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