Chapter 14

REVIEW: Please write the definition for generalized imitation

Generalized Imitation – Imitation of the response of a model without previous reinforcement for imitation of that specific response.

1. The theory of generalized imitation.

a. Explain the theory.

  • Generalized imitative responses occur because they automatically produce imitative reinforcers.
  • Imitative reinforcers are the stimuli arising from the match between the behavior of the imitator and the behavior of the model that function as reinforcers.
  • These generalized imitative responses will maintain only if other imitative responses have occurred and been reinforced previously.

b. Draw a generic diagram illustrating generalized imitation.


(See the diagram below)

c. Explain the need for the theory of generalized imitation

  • We need a theory that explains why, seemingly, an imitator will perform a response when no reinforcement occurs for that response.
  • According to the model of behavior analysis, all behavior will maintain only if it is immediately reinforced. In the case that we are presenting here, generalized imitative responses are maintained despite what would seem like the absence of reinforcement.
  • However, according to the theory of generalized reinforcement, these novel imitative responses ARE reinforced with imitative reinforcers.
  • Therefore this theory provides a way to explain why we observe generalized imitation using the behavior analytic model.