Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Behavior Analysis and Therapy

First Advisor

Dixon, Mark


AN ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS OF BRITTNEY E. EBERHARDT, for the Master of Science degree in Behavior Analysis and Therapy, presented on August 2016, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: TEACHING IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS TO CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DELAYS USING THE PEAK RELATIONAL TRAINING SYSTEM MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Mark R. Dixon Idiomatic expressions are commonly used phrases, which require the listener to interpret the meaning figuratively rather than literally. The purpose of this study was to expand the research in the area of stimulus equivalence to determine whether untaught symmetrical and transitive responding in relation to idiomatic expressions would emerge for two participants with developmental delays. The first phase of the study involved directly training participants to respond with the statement (B stimuli; i.e.: “Go to bed.”) that corresponded with an intraverbal (A stimuli; i.e.: “What do you do at night after you put on your pajamas?”). After participants mastered these relationships, they were directly trained to respond with the idiomatic expression (C stimuli; i.e.: “Hit the hay”) when the experimenter verbally asked, “What is another way to say [A stimuli]?”. The results indicate that both participants achieved mastery criteria during the first phase of the study on A-B relations, however they were unable to demonstrate the derived equivalence A-C relation or C-B relation. After training on the B-C relationship, participants were again able to achieve criteria on the trained relationship and demonstrated some of the derived symmetrical relationships as well as derived transitive relationships. In addition, this study utilized the procedures from the PEAK-E relational training system to aid in replication in research and clinical practice.




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