A Basic Laboratory Evaluation of the Effects of Lag Schedules of Reinforcement on Mand Variability in Adult Undergraduate Students
Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior led to the development of widely used training procedures that improve manding in multiple populations such as individuals with developmental disorders, traumatic brain injury, and dementia. Mand training is also an essential feature of functional communication training used to decrease challenging behavior in individuals with developmental disorders. Recently, researchers have more specifically examined the clinical utility of reinforcing mand variability (i.e., mand variability training). However, this research has advanced in the near complete absence of experimental research on the reinforcement of manding in typically languaged individuals, leaving many questions remaining about the effects of mand training generally, and mand variability training specifically, in the context of typical brain development. In the current study, we addressed this gap in the literature by evaluating a basic laboratory model of reinforcing multiple mand variability dimensions using lag schedules in undergraduate students in an online videoconference environment. Common household items were used as analogue nonvocal mand modalities to simulate mand training in clinical contexts for individuals with autism and manding deficits. In contrast to existing literature, we did not observe control over mand variability with lag schedules. However, we conclude with some important limitations of the current study which may explain the findings.
Keywords: Manding, mand training, operant variability, lag schedules