The Effect of Modeling on Cooperation in the Laboratory and in the Natural Environment

Janice V. Siegel, Utah State University


In this study a multiple-baseline design was used to determine the effectiveness of three different modeling sequences in increasing cooperative behavior in children in a laboratory situation. The research also assessed the short- and long-term effects of the laboratory procedures on children's behavior in a free-play setting.

Subjects were 9 pairs of preschool-aged children. In the laboratory situation pairs of subjects performed a block-stacking task which allowed them to respond either cooperatively or independently. Following baseline periods of varying lengths, the pairs of children were exposed to one of three videotapes of cooperative models. In Tape 1 adult models demonstrated cooperative behavior, but exhibited no verbal behavior. In Tape 2 the models made positive statements about cooperation contiguous with the demonstration of cooperative behavior. In Tape 3 the models demonstrated cooperation, made contiguous positive statements about cooperation, and in addition, they received differential positive reinforcement for cooperation.

Although three of nine teams showed a significant increase in mutually cooperative responding, consistent multiple baseline control was not demonstrated. Therefore, it could not be conclusively stated that the videotaped cooperative models were effective in increasing children 1 s mutually cooperative responding in the laboratory.

A significant increase in parallel play was noted between laboratory partners in free-play periods immediately following the laboratory sessions; however, this increased interaction was not obvious when 5-day and 6-week follow-up observations were made.