Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Frank R. Ascione


The purpose of this study was to investigate three different programs designed to increase verbal and physical sharing and to determine the generalizability and durability of the behaviors that were trained. Eight groups of four preschool children, balanced for sex, were observed for 16 minutes daily during a free play period in their preschool classroom. After eight days of baseline, 24 children received one of three types of training for eight sessions. Eight children were taught to verbally share, eight to physically share, and eight to both verbally and physically share. All of these children received a treatment package composed of instructions, modeling, behavioral rehearsal, prompting, and praise. After the training phase, these children were returned to the baseline condition for eight days. The remaining eight children served as a no treatment control. Each day immediately following free play the children were observed for 12 minutes while working on a different task (art) in a different classroom, with a different experimenter, observers, and materials. Four weeks after training ended all the children were observed for an additional five days during both the free play and art activities.

Children trained to verbally share showed an increase in verbal sharing which diminished when treatment was withdrawn and failed to generalize to another setting (art). There was, however, a concomitant increase in physical sharing during both activities that was maintained even during the follow-up. Similarly, children taught to share verbally and physically demonstrated the same effects of treatment as those receiving only training in verbal sharing. The magnitude of these effects, however, was slightly greater for those children who were taught both types of sharing. Training in only physical sharing produced larger increases in physical sharing in both settings than the other two approaches but these effects were lost when treatment was terminated. Verbal sharing among these children was unaffected by the treatment. Finally, for those children who did not receive any training, no systematic increases in either verbal or physical sharing were observed. Therefore, the high level of physical sharing during the follow-up for those children who were only taught to verbally share and for those who were instructed to verbally and physically share was not due to the change in the natural course of sharing over time but rather due to the treatments. Training children to verbally share, physically share, or both had no effect on the rate with which they refused to share.

The present findings suggest that to facilitate sharing among preschool children, at a minimum they must be taught to share verbally. Training children to share only physically is not recommended because it was not durable and did not generalize. Training both verbal and physical sharing produced results with a magnitude slightly greater than teaching just verbal sharing but in the absence of a cost-benefit analysis, the additional training is questionable.

Without special programming some of the effects generalized to another setting and were maintained about four weeks after the termination of the treatment. There was response generalization of verbal to physical sharing but not vice versa. Hypotheses concerning why generalization occurred without specific programming, future areas of research, and ethical considerations are discussed.



Included in

Psychology Commons