The impact of body-part-naming training on the accuracy of imitative performances in 2- to 3-year-old children

Vera Camões-Costa, Mihela Erjavec, Pauline J. Horne

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3 Citations (Scopus)


A series of three experiments explored the relationship between 3-year-old children's ability to name target body parts and their untrained matching of target hand-to-body touches. Nine participants, 3 per experiment, were presented with repeated generalized imitation tests in a multiple-baseline procedure, interspersed with step-by-step training that enabled them to (i) tact the target locations on their own and the experimenter's bodies or (ii) respond accurately as listeners to the experimenter's tacts of the target locations. Prompts for on-task naming of target body parts were also provided later in the procedure. In Experiment 1, only tact training followed by listener probes were conducted; in Experiment 2, tacting was trained first and listener behavior second, whereas in Experiment 3 listener training preceded tacttraining. Both tact and listener training resultedin emergence of naming together with significant and large improvements in the children'smatching performances; this was true for each child and across most target gestures. The present series of experiments provides evidence that naming -the most basic form of self-instructional behavior-may be one means of establishing untrained matching as measured ingeneralized imitation tests. This demonstration has a bearing on our interpretation ofimitation reported in the behavior analytic, cognitive developmental, and comparative literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-315
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Imitation
  • Listener behavior training
  • Manual gestures
  • Matching training
  • Naming
  • Tact training
  • Young children

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