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Keywords:

  • verbal behavior;
  • functional independence;
  • mands;
  • tacts;
  • prepositional phrases;
  • children

This study demonstrates functional independence in the acquisition of mands and tacts. Some subjects first learned to mand the experimenter's placement of objects with the prepositional phrases “On the left” and “On the right.” They were regularly tested for collateral appearance of tacts with these same phrases. Other subjects learned to tact the location of objects with these prepositional phrases and were regularly tested for collateral appearance of mands. All subjects were next trained in the repertoire that had not been trained in the first condition (either tact or mand). After all subjects had learned both to mand and to tact correctly, another assessment of mand-tact independence was undertaken. Mands (tacts) were reversed and testing assessed collateral reversal of tacts (mands). The results demonstrated that tacts and mands, even when incorporating identical response forms, were functionally independent during acquisition. Subsequent modification of one repertoire (by reversal training) produced collateral reversal in three of nine subjects.