Direct and vicarous effects of social praise on mentally retarded preschool children's attentive behavior

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The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of social praise on the attentive behavior of reinforced and nonreinforced children. Two pairs of mentally retarded preschool boys served as subjects. Employing a reversal design, one child from each pair was differentially reinforced for attending to manipulative toys. The results revealed that: (a) The intervention procedure increased the attentive behavior of the target subjects. (b) Nonreinforced subjects also increased their attentive behavior during both reinforcement conditions. (c) This “spillover” of reinforcement effect was transient, as the non- target subjects level of attentive behavior decelerated during the final half of each 20-day rekforcement period.