Graduation Date

Spring 5-9-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Medical Sciences Interdepartmental Area

First Advisor

Kevin C. Luczynski

Second Advisor

Nicole M. Rodriguez

Third Advisor

Wayne W. Fisher

Fourth Advisor

Brian D. Greer


Whether a child with autism spectrum disorder will exhibit observational learning may depend on their attention to a part of the observed contingency and the stimulus modalities of the observed contingency. The absence of observational learning due to one or more of these variables would constitute a boundary condition. We held attention constant and used a multiple probe design combined with a repeated acquisition design to tested observational learning across a diverse set of contingencies, which composed of a hidden-edible, hidden-toy, hidden-video, tact, receptive-identification , and intraverbal contingencies. During preteaching, two children with autism spectrum disorder showed observational learning with two and four of the six contingencies. During teaching, children learned to engage in differential observing responses for the behavior and consequences performed by the model with the hidden-video contingency. During postteaching, one child showed generalization of observational learning on the receptive-identification and intraverbal contingencies, both children showed observational learning with the hidden-video contingency, and no generalization on the tact contingency. Thus, teaching was initiated with the tact contingency, which led to consistent increases in observational learning with targets unassociated with teaching. Results extend previous research demonstrating the utility of teaching differential observing responses on observational learning in children with autism spectrum disorder. Moreover, inconsistent observational learning across contingencies in pre and postteaching suggests that a comprehensive approach composed of testing across a variety of contingencies is necessary.

Available for download on Saturday, April 23, 2022