Improving social interaction in chronic psychotic using discriminated avoidance ("nagging"): experimental analysis and generalization.
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Three social-interaction behaviors of a withdrawn chronic schizophrenic were increased using a discriminated avoidance ("nagging") procedure. The three behaviors were: (a) voice volume loud enough so that two-thirds of his speech was intellibible at a distance of 3m; (b) duration of speech of at least 15 sec; (c) placement of hands and elbows on the armrests of the chair in which he was sitting. "Nagging" consisted of verbal prompts to improve performance when the behaviors did not meet their criteria. A combined withdrawal and multiple-baseline design was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the procedure, and the contingency was sequentially applied to each of the three behaviors in each of four different interactions to determine the degree of stimulus and response generalization. Results indicated that the contingency was the effective element in increasing the patient's appropriate performance, and that there was a high degree of stimulus generalization and a moderate degree of response generalization. After the patient's discharge from the hospital, the durability of improvement across time and setting was determined in followup sessions conducted at a day treatment center and at a residential care home. Volume and duration generalized well to the new settings, while arm placement extinguished immediately.
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