Posted: August 6th, 2022

M10 Project


ABA 525 Applied Behavior


General Introduction – You will select a child and an instructional objective that you will be teaching the child. You will write a teaching plan that incorporates at least 3 of the Stokes and Baer strategies* for planning for generalization.


1. Provide a 3-5 sentence description of a learner (child or adult).

2. Operationally define an instructional objective for this learner; it can be targeting social, behavioral, language, or adaptive behavior.

3. Develop an instructional teaching protocol to teach this behavior; provide details of the instruction so that fidelity could be assessed.

4. In this protocol, build in at least 3 generalization strategies* from Stokes and Baer. Label each strategy, and then provide detailed scripts/explanations as to how you will be incorporating this strategy into the teaching.

1977, 10, 349-367



Traditionally, discrimination has been understood as an active process, and a technology
of its procedures has been developed and practiced extensively. Generalization, by con-
trast, has been considered the natural result of failing to practice a discrimination
technology adequately, and thus has remained a passive concept almost devoid of a
technology. But, generalization is equally deserving of an active conceptualization and
technology. This review summarizes the structure of the generalization literature and
its implicit embryonic technology, categorizing studies designed to assess or program
generalization according to nine general headings: Train and Hope; Sequential Modifi-
cation; Introduce to Natural Maintaining Contingencies; Train Sufficient Exemplars;
Train Loosely; Use Indiscriminable Contingencies; Program Common Stimuli; Mediate
Generalization; and Train “To Generalize”.
DESCRIPTORS: generalization, treatment-gain durability, followup measures, main-

tenance, postcheck methodology

Traditionally, many theorists have considered
generalization to be a passive phenomenon. Gen-
eralization was not seen as an operant response
that could be programmed, but as a description
of a “natural” outcome of any behavior-change
process. That is, a teaching operation repeated
over time and trials inevitably involves varying
samples of stimuli, rather than the same set
every time; in the same way, it inevitably evokes
and reinforces varying samples of behavior,
rather than the same set every time. As a conse-
quence, it is predictable that newly taught re-
sponses would be controlled not only by the
stimuli of the teaching program, but by others
somewhat resembling those stimuli (Skinner,
1953, p. 107ff.). Similarly, responses resembling
those established directly, yet not themselves ac-
tually touched by the teaching procedures, would
appear as a result of the teaching (Keller and

‘Preparation of this paper was supported in part by
PHS Training Grant 00183, Program Project Grant
HD 00870, and Research Grant MH 11739. Reprints
may be obtained either from T. F. Stokes, Department
of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg,
Manitoba, Canada R3T 2N2, or D. M. Baer, Depart-
ment of Human Development, University of Kansas,
Lawrence, Kansas 66045.

Schoenfeld, 1950, p. 168ff.). Thus, generaliza-
tion was something that happened, not some-
thing produced by procedures specific to it.

If generalization seemed absent or insignifi-
cant, it was simply to be assumed that the teach-
ing process had managed to maintain unusually
tight control of the stimuli and responses in-
volved, allowing little sampling of their varie-
ties. This assumption was strongly supported by
the well-known techniques of discrimination: by
differential reinforcement (in general, by any
differential teaching) of certain stimuli relative
to others, and/or certain responses relative to
others, generalization could be programmatically
restricted and diminished to a very small range.
Thus, it was discrimination that was understood
as an active process, and a technology of its pro-
cedures was developed and practiced extensively.
But generalization was considered the natural
result of failing to practice discrimination’s tech-
nology adequately, and thus remained a passive
concept almost devoid of a technology. Never-
theless, in educational practice, and in the devel-
opment of theories aimed at serving both practice
and a better understanding of human function-
ing, generalization is equally as important as dis-




crimination, and equally deserving of an active

Generalization has been and doubtless will
remain a fundamental concern of applied behav-
ior analysis. A therapeutic behavioral change,
to be effective, often (not always) must occur
over time, persons, and settings, and the effects
of the change sometimes should spread to a
variety of related behaviors. Even though the
literature shows many instances of generaliza-
tion, it is still frequently observed that when a
change in behavior has been accomplished
through experimental contingencies, then that
change is manifest where and when those contin-
gencies operate, and is often seen in only transi-
tory forms in other places and at other times.
The frequent need for generalization of thera-

peutic behavior change is widely accepted, but it
is not always realized that generalization does
not automatically occur simply because a behav-
ior change is accomplished. Thus, the need ac-
tively to program generalization, rather than
passively to expect it as an outcome of certain
training procedures, is a point requiring both
emphasis and effective techniques (Baer, Wolf,
and Risley, 1968). That such exhortations have
often been made has not always ensured that
researchers in the field have taken serious note
of and, therefore, proceeded to analyze ade-
quately the generalization issues of vital concern
to their programs. The emphasis, refinement, and
elaboration of the principles and procedures that
are meant to explain and produce generalization
when it does not occur “naturally” is an impor-
tant area of unfinished business for applied be-
havior analysis.

The notion of generalization developed here
is an essentially pragmatic one; it does not
closely follow the traditional conceptualizations
(Keller and Schoenfeld, 1950; Skinner, 1953).
In many ways, this discussion will sidestep much
of the controversy concerning terminology. Gen-
eralization will be considered to be the occur-
rence of relevant behavior under different, non-
training conditions (i.e., across subjects, settings,
people, behaviors, and/or time) without the

scheduling of the same events in those conditions
as had been scheduled in the training conditions.
Thus, generalization may be claimed when no
extratraining manipulations are needed for extra-
training changes; or may be claimed when some
extra manipulations are necessary, but their cost
or extent is clearly less than that of the direct
intervention. Generalization will not be claimed
when similar events are necessary for similar ef-
fects across conditions.
A technology of generalization programming

is almost a reality, despite the fact that until re-
cently, it had hardly been recognized as a prob-
lem in its own right. Within common teaching
practice, there is an informal germ of a technol-
ogy for generalization. Furthermore, within the
practice of applied behavior analysis (especially
within the past 5 yr or so), there has appeared
a budding area of “generalization-promotion”
techniques. The purpose of this review is to sum-
marize the structure of that generalization litera-
ture and its implicit embryonic technology. Some
270 applied behavior analysis studies relevant to
generalization in that discipline were reviewed.2
A central core of that literature, consisting of
some 120 studies, contributes directly to a tech-
nology of generalization. In general, techniques
designed to assess or to program generalization
can be loosely categorized according to nine
general headings:

1. Train and Hope
2. Sequential Modification
3. Introduce to Natural Maintaining Contin-

4. Train Sufficient Exemplars

5. Train Loosely

6. Use Indiscriminable Contingencies

7. Program Common Stimuli

2Ninety per cent of the literature reviewed was
from five journals: Behaviour Research and Therapy;
Behavior Therapy; Journal of Applied Behavior Anal-
ysis; Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental
Psychiatry; and Journal of Experimental Child Psy-
chology. Seventy-seven per cent of the literature re-
viewed has been published since 1970.



8. Mediate Generalization

9. Train “To Generalize”.

This review characterizes each category, and
describes some examples of research that illus-
trate the generalization analyses or program-
ming involved in each category. Obviously, all
the relevant references cannot be discussed in this
review.3 The nine categories listed above were
induced from the literature; they are not a priori
categories. Consequently, studies do not always
fit neatly into these categories. It should also be
noted that not all studies reviewed were thorough
experimental analyses of generalization. Often
inferences were necessary to categorize the re-
search. However, the following discussion still
may provide a useful organization and concep-
tualization of generalization and its program-

1. Train and Hope
In applied behavior analysis research, the most

frequent method of examining generalization, so
far, may be labelled Train and Hope. After a
behavior change is effected through manipula-
tion of some response consequences, any existent
generalization across responses, settings, experi-
menters, and time, is concurrently and/or sub-
sequently documented or noted, but not actively
pursued. It is usually hoped that some generali-
zation may occur, which will be welcomed yet
not explicitly programmed. These hopeful probes
for stimulus and response generalization char-
acterize almost half of the applied literature on
generalization. The studies have considerable
importance, for they begin to document the ex-
tent and limits of generalization of particular
operant intervention techniques. While not being

3Complete reference lists and detailed tables de-
scribing subjects, procedures, and generalization of
all studies reviewed are deposited with the National
Auxiliary Publications Service (NAPS). For copies,
order NAPS Document #02873. Order from ASIS/
NAPS Co., C/O Microfiche Publications, 305 East
46th Street, New York, New York 10017. Remit
with order for each copy $3.00 for microfiche or
$19.50 for photocopies. Make checks payable to
Microfiche Publications.

examples of the programming of generalization,
they are a sound first step in any serious analysis
of generalization. When generalization is desired,
but is shown to be absent or deficient, program-
ming procedures can then be instituted.

For example, useful generalization across set-
tings was documented by Kifer, Lewis, Green,
and Phillips (1974). In an experimental class-
room setting, parent-child pairs were taught to
negotiate in conflict situations. During simulated
role-playing, instructions, practice, and feedback
were used to teach the negotiation behaviors of
fully stating one’s position, identifying the issues
of conflict, and suggesting options to resolve the
conflict. The data showed increased use of nego-
tiation behaviors and the reaching of agreements
in actual parent-child conflict situations at home.
An assessment of generalization across experi-

menters was described by Redd and Birnbrauer
(1969), who demonstrated that control over the
cooperative play of retarded children did not
generalize from an adult who dispensed contin-
gent edible reinforcement to five other adults
who had not participated in training.

Studies that are examples of Train and Hope
across time are those in which there was a change
from the intervention procedures, either to a less
intensive but procedurally different program, or
to no program or no specifically defined pro-
gram. Data or anecdotal observations were re-
ported concerning the maintenance of the origi-
nal behavior change over the specified time
intervening between the termination of the
formal program and the postchecks. An example
of a followup evaluation was the study by Azrin,
Sneed, and Foxx (1973). An intensive training
program involving reinforcement of correct toi-
leting and positive practice procedures promptly
decreased bedwetting by 12 retarded persons.
The reduced rate of accidents was maintained
during a three-month followup assessment.

Perhaps there are many more studies in the
Train and Hope category than would have been
expected (about 135, of which 65 % are across
Time). However, despite its obvious value, this
research is frequently characterized by a lack of



comprehensiveness and depth of the generaliza-
tion analysis. Even though generalized behavior
change was frequently reported, extensive, wide-
ranging, and practical generalization was not
often noted or even sought. The continued de-
velopment of behavior analysis almost surely
will demand more extensive collection of gener-
alization data than is presently the fashion. The
extent and limits of applied behavioral interven-
tions may be well documented and understood if
measurement is extended over longer periods of
time, over more than one circumscribed part of
the day, with more than one related response,
and with more than a restricted part of the social
and physical environment. It is as important for
the field to formalize the conditions of the non-
occurrence of generalization as it is to document
the conditions associated with the display of un-
programmed generalization.

Most of the Train-and-Hope research described
successful generalization-approximately 90%
of Train-and-Hope studies. By definition, there
was no further need to program generalization
in those studies where generalization had been
exhibited within the Train-and-Hope para-
digm-presuming, of course, that the generali-
zation exhibited was considered sufficient to meet
the therapeutic goals of the various modification
programs (not necessarily a valid presumption
in the Train-and-Hope research). This prepon-
derance of positive data may simply reflect the
tendency of some researchers not to report their
generalization data if measurement procedures
were instituted to probe for any generalized be-
havior changes, but generalization was shown to
be absent. Some researchers may view nongen-
eralization as reflecting a deficiency or ineffective-
ness of their procedures to develop a desirable
generalized performance. Behavior analysts,
nevertheless, should encourage their fellow re-
searchers to document and to analyze experimen-
tally their apparent failures, rather than allowing
them to slide into oblivion. A detailed and sys-
tematic understanding of generalization and its
programming could result. Alternatively, re-
searchers might view their generalization base-

lines as being essentially independent of the mod-
ified baseline; thus, to report nongeneralization
would serve no useful purpose, for its nonoccur-
rence would be expected. Again, any such docu-
mentation contributes to our understanding of
the extent and limits of generalization, as well as
serving as an indication of the frequent necessity
of generalization-programming techniques.

There is another reason for the predominance
of positive results in this section: if nongeneral-
ization was clearly evident, and the modification
of this state was important, then a form of lim-
ited programming was frequently instituted. Ex-
amples of this research will be discussed in the
next category, “Sequential Modification”.

2. Sequential Modification
These studies exemplify a more systematic

approach to generalization than the Train-and-
Hope research. Again, a particular behavior
change is effected, and generalization is assessed.
But then, if generalization is absent or deficient,
procedures are initiated to accomplish the desired
changes by systematic sequential modification in
every nongeneralized condition, i.e., across re-
sponses, subjects, settings, or experimenters. The
possibility of unprogrammed generalization typi-
cally was not examined in these sequential modi-
fication studies, because after the initial demon-
stration of nongeneralization, all other baselines
were exhausted. That is, after changes had been
produced directly in all baselines, generalization
to nonrecorded responses, subjects, settings, and
experimenters may have occurred, but could not
be examined.

For example, Meichenbaum, Bowers, and Ross
(1968) reported an absence of generalization of
behavior changes from an afternoon intervention
period to the morning period in a classroom for
institutionalized female adolescent offenders.
Money dispensed contingent on on-task behav-
iors effected desired behavior changes during the
afternoon, but generalization to the morning
period required that the same manipulations be
applied there as well (sequential modification
across settings). Similarly, generalization across



settings of the disruptive and oppositional behav-
ior of two children was investigated by Wahler
(1969). He demonstrated control of these behav-
iors in the home by using differential attention
and timeout operations. When generalization to
the children’s school behavior was not evidenced,
similar contingency operations were employed to
accomplish changes in that setting as well.
The category of Sequential Modification char-

acterizes much of the actual practice of many
behavior analysts. Sequential modification is
merely a systematized experimental procedure
that formalizes and allows evaluation of these
typical therapeutic endeavors. The tactic of
scheduling behavior-change programs in every
condition to which generalization is desired is
frequently employed. The rationale for these
procedures is as follows. If a desired generaliza-
tion is not likely to be exhibited after changing a
behavior in a particular condition, or a number
of conditions, e.g., settings, then the researcher or
practitioner works to effect changes across con-
ditions as a matter of course, rather than as an
outcome of the display or nondisplay of general-
ization. Thus, a behavior analyst is likely to ad-
vise the scheduling of consequences in every
relevant condition in preference to the dispens-
ing of consequences in only one or a few condi-
tions, while hoping for generalization, but likely
not seeing it.

3. Introduce to Natural Maintaining

Perhaps the most dependable of all general-
ization programming mechanisms is one that
hardly deserves the name: the transfer of behav-
ioral control from the teacher-experimenter to
stable, natural contingencies that can be trusted
to operate in the environment to which the sub-
ject will return, or already occupies. To a con-
siderable extent, this goal is accomplished by
choosing behaviors to teach that normally will
meet maintaining reinforcement after the teach-
ing (Ayllon and Azrin, 1968).

Baer and Wolf (1970) reported a study by
Ingram that illustrated the mechanism of “trap-

ping”, where a preschool child was taught an
entry response that exposed the child to the
natural contingencies of peers in the preschool
environment. Preschool teachers modified the
low rate of skillful interaction of the child by
priming others to interact with the subject and
reinforcing appropriate interactions. The data
showed that over time the teachers lost control
of the interaction behavior, which remained
high; it was assumed that the group’s natural
consequences for interaction had taken control
of the subject’s behavior. Thus, to program gen-
eralization, the child perhaps needed only to be
introduced adequately to the natural reinforcers
inherent in active preschool play and interaction.
Some early analyses of preschool children’s be-
havior have stressed that if the child can be so
introduced (through the operation of differential
attention from teachers) to a reinforcing pre-
school natural environment, then the behaviors
eventually do not need to be maintained by con-
tinued contrived modification of the environ-
ment. For example, Hall and Broden (1967)
modified the manipulative play, climbing, and
social interaction of three subjects through social
reinforcement operations. Behavior changes were
shown to be durable and successful followup
data at three months were described.

Buell, Stoddard, Harris, and Baer (1968) dem-
onstrated the collateral development of appro-
priate social behavior (e.g., touching, verbalizing,
and playing with other children) accompanying
the reinforcement of increased use of outdoor
play equipment by a 3-yr-old girl. This entry re-
sponse to the natural reinforcement community
was tactically sound because the child’s motor
behavior was modified in a setting where the
resulting behavior would tend automatically to
increase social contact with other children, and
this natural social environment could maintain
the child’s new skills, but indeed may also be
expected to sharpen and refine them, and add
entirely new ones as well.
Most of the research concerning natural main-

taining contingencies has involved children, per-
haps because such techniques seem particularly



suitable, especially to their social behavior. Re-
search would profit by determining what natural
reinforcement communities exist for various be-
haviors and subjects, and what economical means
may be employed to ensure entry to these behav-
ioral traps.

Unfortunately, in some instances there may be
no natural reinforcement operating to develop
and maintain skills. For example, in the case of
retarded and institutionalized persons whose de-
pendency has become a stable fact in the lives of
their caretakers, some re-arrangement of the
natural environment may be necessary. A few
studies have introduced subjects to semicontrived
or redesigned “natural” reinforcement communi-
ties. A simple but meaningful example was pro-
vided by Horner (1971), who taught a 5-yr-old
institutionalized retarded boy to walk on crutches
in an experimental setting. The child was then
prompted to generalize the new walking skill
to other settings and activities to which he previ-
ously had been taken in a wheelchair by solici-
tous caretakers, by enlisting those caretakers to
refrain from offering this help. Within 15 days
after treatment was concluded, the child walked
on crutches to all those activities and settings,
eventually extending his ambulation skills to any
part of his world. Stolz and Wolf (1969) trained
a 16-yr-old, “blind” retarded male to discriminate
visual stimuli. Then, the environment was so
structured that assistance was not given in situa-
tions where it had previously been given as a
matter of course. When the boy was required to
use visual cues to help himself in a cafeteria line,
he soon emitted the necessary behaviors. How-
ever, these studies did not establish the function-
ality of their procedures in the maintenance of
behavior changes.

Another significant example was provided by
Seymour and Stokes (1976). In their study, insti-
tutionalized delinquent girls were taught to so-
licit reinforcement (cf. Graubard, Rosenberg,
and Miller, 1971) from their natural community,
the staff of their residential institution. In their
case, the staff had rarely displayed any systematic
attempts at reinforcing desirable behavior shown

by the girls, perhaps on the presumption that the
girls were “bad” and not reinforcible in any case.
However, the experimenters were able to teach
the girls that when their work was objectively
good, and when staff persons were nearby, a
simple skill of calling these adults’ attention to
their good work would result in fairly consistent
reinforcement. Thus, this was a case in which
experimental reinforcement was used to develop
a response in the subjects that would tap and
cultivate the available but dormant natural com-
munity. In theory, this new skill should have
obviated the need for further experimental re-
inforcement, for the praise evoked should have
functioned to maintain both the girls’ work and
cueing, and the cueing, in turn, should have func-
tioned to maintain staff praise. The Seymour and
Stokes’ study could not be continued long enough
to establish whether this would happen, and so
it remains a logically appealing but still unex-
plored method of enhancing generalization:
teaching the subject a means of recruiting a nat-
ural community of reinforcement to maintain
that generalization. Perhaps an even greater ad-
vantage of such procedures is a change in the
locus of control: the subjects can become more
prominent agents of their own behavior change,
rather than being hapless pawns of more-or-less
random environmental contingencies.

Restructuring the environment thus becomes a
target of research aimed at extending the gener-
alization of newly taught skills; even though, at
a technical level, this operation may not be con-
sidered generalization, but rather transfer of
control from one reinforcement contingency to
another. In any event, it is a much neglected
topic of experimental research, although widely
recognized as a desirable, and even essential
characteristic of any rehabilitative effort.

Some natural contingencies are inevitably at
work contributing to the maintenance of inap-
propriate behavior. For example, peer-group
control of inappropriate behavior has often been
suspected and sometimes documented (Buehler,
Patterson, and Furniss, 1966; Gelfand, Gelfand,
and Dobson, 1967; Solomon and Wahler, 1973).



It would seem reasonable, then, that if the pat-
tern of reinforcement of inappropriate behavior
is modified, the observed outcome may errone-
ously, but happily be attributed to generalization.
For example, Bolstad and Johnson (1972) pre-
sented data that showed that both experimental
and control subjects in the same classroom were
all affected (although not to the same extent) by
experimental manipulation of the reinforcement
contingency for the experimental subjects,
whereas control subjects in a different classroom
were not so affected. The authors presented data
that may account for these differences. The con-
trol subjects in the experimental classroom, who
were also disruptive students, had fewer disrup-
tive interactions with the experimental subjects
during the treatment phases than during base-
line. This possible generalization effect may be
due to the disruption of the natural contingencies
operating in that environment. That is, other
disruptive students previously supported some of
the disruptive behavior of the control subjects,
but during treatment these experimental subjects
did not support the disruptive behavior of their
peers and, thus, a “generalized” decrease in dis-
ruptive behavior by the control subjects resulted.

4. Train Sufficient Exemplars
If the result of teaching one exemplar of a

generalizable lesson is merely the mastery of the
exemplar taught, with no generalization beyond
it, then the obvious route to generalization is to
teach another exemplar of the same generaliza-
tion lesson, and then another, and then another,
and so on until the induction is formed (i.e., until
generalization occurs sufficiently to satisfy the
problem posed). Examples of such programming
techniques will be described in this category of
training sufficient exemplars, perhaps one of the
most valuable areas of programming. Certainly
it is the generalization-programming area most
prominent and extensive in the present literature.

In the research discussed previously under
the categories of Train and Hope and Sequen-
tial Modification, the typical analysis of gener-
alization concerned the measurement of gener-

alization to only a few (and often only one)
extraexperimental responses, subjects, settings,
experimenters, or times. When the absence of
generalization was noted, sometimes it was ac-
complished by further direct intervention in
every nongeneralized condition (i.e., Sequential
Modification). Having completed such modifica-
tions, the possibility of more extensive general-
ized effects (i.e., beyond the two or three modified
baselines) was not examined. In the training of
sufficient exemplars, generalization to untrained
stimulus conditions and to untrained responses
is programmed by the training of sufficient ex-
emplars (rather than all) of these stimulus con-
ditions or responses.
A systematic demonstration of programmed

generalization and measurement of generalized
effects beyond intervention conditions was re-
ported by Stokes, Baer, and Jackson (1974). They
established that training and maintenance of re-
tarded childrens’ greeting responses by one ex-
perimenter was not usually sufficient for the
generalization of the response across experi-
menters. However, high levels of generalization
to over 20 members of the institution staff (and
newcomers as well) who had not participated
in the training of the response were recorded,
after a second experimenter trained and main-
tained the response in conjunction with the first
experimenter. Thus, when generalization did not
prevail after the training of one stimulus exem-
plar, it was programmed by training a greater
diversity of stimulus (trainer) conditions. Simi-
larly, Garcia (1974) taught a conversational
speech form to two retarded children, and, upon
discovering a lack of stable generalization across
experimenters after one training input, pro-
grammed generalization across experimenters by
having a second experimenter teach the same
A sufficient-stimulus-exemplars demonstration

of programmed generalization across settings has
been described by Allen (1973). Allen modified
the bizarre verbalizations of an 8-yr-old boy by
differential attention procedures. Ignoring bi-
zarre verbalizations and praise for appropriate



interaction reduced bizarre verbalizations during
evening camp activities. However, there was no
generalization to three other camp settings. After
additional training in a second setting, some
generalization to the unmanipulated settings was
noted. This generalization was further enhanced
by intervention in the third setting. Unfortu-
nately, the experimental procedures did not allow
sufficient time to document the full extent of
generalization after training in two settings, but
generalization after training in two settings was
clearly evident. Griffiths and Craighead (1972)
similarly programmed generalization across set-
tings. A 30-yr-old retarded woman received
praise and tokens for correct articulation in
speech therapy. Generalization to a residential
cottage was not observed until the same proce-
dures were instituted there. Following training
in these two stimulus exemplars, generalization
to a third nontraining setting (a classroom) was

Very little research concerned with generaliza-
tion programming has dealt with the training of
sufficient stimulus exemplars. The infrequent
research that has been published is characterized
largely by programming across experimenters.
This work has been promising, for after a modest
number of training inputs, generalization appar-
ently will occur with persons not involved in
training-unquestionably a valuable and inex-
pensive outcome. However, the present implica-
tion of these studies is limited because of the
restricted nature of the type of subjects and
responses analyzed. Further work is also needed
to give direction to the optimal conditions
whereby the most extensive generalization will
be achieved with a minimal training expendi-
ture. Nevertheless, it is optimistic to note how
frequently a sufficient number of exemplars is
a small number of exemplars. Frequently, it is
no more than two. In particular, there may well
be reason to suspect that the use of two trainers
will yield excellent results in terms of generaliza-
tion. This possibility, obviously an economical
one, certainly merits systematic study of its po-
tential and limits.

Although very little research has been re-
ported, the analysis of generalization program-
ming by training in a number of settings is a
virtually untapped area of far-reaching value.
However, consistent optimism should follow ex-
amination of the studies showing generalization
after training in only a few settings. Unfortu-
nately, behavior analysts seem too often satisfied
with the modification of a single, well-defined
behavior in one setting, e.g., a laboratory pre-
school. Discriminated programs are often accept-
able, and sometimes even desirable. When gener-
alization is a valid concern, but researchers and
practitioners do not act as if this were so, the
discriminated behavior of researchers is most
probably inhibitory to the development of an
effective generalization technology.

Over the past 10 yr, there has developed an
extensive literature discussing the programmed
generalization of responses through the training
of sufficient response exemplars. A response class
has been operationally defined to describe the
fact that some responses are organized such that
operations applied to a subset of responses in the
class affect the other members of that class in the
same manner. For example, Baer, Peterson, and
Sherman (1967) reinforced various motor imita-
tions by retarded children. They found that as
long as reinforcement followed some imitative
responses, other imitations continued to be per-
formed without training or reinforcement.
A topographical analysis of generalized imita-

tion has been made by Garcia, Baer, and Fire-
stone ( 1971). Four retarded children were trained
to imitate three different topographical types of
response: small motor, large motor, and short
vocal. These subjects were also probed for their
imitation of other unreinforced responses: short
motor, long motor, short vocal, and long vocal.
Generalized imitation was observed with each
subject, but this generalization reflected the par-
ticular dimensions of the topographical response
currently being trained or having previously re-
ceived training. Thus, generalization may occur
within well-defined classes and may not gener-
alize to other classes unless some special training



(generalization programming) occurs within that
class as well. These data depict one possible limi-
tation of the generality of generalized imitation,
as well as pointing to the need to train response
exemplars that will adequately reflect the di-
versity of the generalization being programmed.

Children’s grammatical development has been
another prominent area of research dealing with
generalized behavior. The concept of response
class is again pivotal in these studies, which
conceptualize the rules of morphological gram-
mar as equivalent to response class phenomena.
For example, Guess, Sailor, Rutherford, and
Baer (1968) developed the generative correct
use of plurals by a retarded girl. After teaching
a number of exemplars of the correct plural
response, the girl appropriately labelled new
objects in the singular or plural without further
direct training relevant to those objects. Plural
usage had become a generalized response class;
the morphological rule had been established.
Schumaker and Sherman (1970) rewarded three
retarded children for the correct production of
past- and present-tense forms of verbs. As past-
and present-tense forms of verbs within an in-
flectional class were modified, there occurred a
generalized usage of untrained verbs to similar
tense forms.

There has been considerable research to estab-
lish the importance of the training of sufficient
response exemplars. A survey of these (approxi-
mately 60) studies shows that the number of
exemplars found to be “sufficient” for a desirable
level and durability of generalization varies
widely, probably determined primarily by the
nature of the task and the subject’s prior skills
relevant to it. Most of this research was con-
cerned with the development of motor and vocal
imitations, and the beginning development of
grammar and syntax. The development of ques-
tion-asking and instruction-following is also well

In conclusion, examination of the sufficient
exemplar research points to a significant (and
long-familiar) generalization-programming pro-
cedure: a number of stimulus and/or response

exemplars should undergo training. That is, to
program the generalized performance of certain
responses across various setting conditions or
persons, training should occur across a (suffi-
cient) number of setting conditions and/or with
various persons. In a similar manner, generaliza-
tion across responses can be programmed reliably
by the training of a number of responses. Diver-
sity of exemplars seems to be the rule to follow
in pursuit of the maximum generalization. Suffi-
cient diversity to reflect the dimensions of the
desired generalization is a useful tactic. However,
diversity may also be our greatest enemy: too
much diversity of exemplars and not enough
(sufficient) exemplars of similar responses may
make potential gains disproportional to the in-
vestment of training effort. The optimal combi-
nation of sufficient exemplars and sufficient di-
versity to yield the most valuable generalization
is critically in need of analysis. Is the best pro-
cedure to train many exemplars with little diver-
sity at the outset, and then expand the diversity
to include dimensions of the desired generaliza-
tion? Or is it a more productive endeavor to
train fewer exemplars that represent a greater
diversity, and persist in the training until gen-
eralization emerges’?

5. Train Loosely

One relatively simple technique can be con-
ceptualized as merely the negation of discrimi-
nation technique. That is, teaching is conducted
with relatively little control over the stimuli
presented and the correct responses allowed, so
as to maximize sampling of relevant dimensions
for transfer to other situations and other forms
of the behavior. A formal example of this most
often informal technique was provided by
Schroeder and Baer (1972), who taught vocal
imitation skills to retarded children in both of
two ways, one emphasizing tight restriction of
the vocal skills being learned at the moment
(serial training of vocal imitations), and the
other allowing much greater range of stimuli
within the current problem (concurrent training



of imitations). The latter method was charac-
terized repeatedly by greater generalization to
as-yet-untaught vocal imitation problems, thus
affirming “loose” teaching techniques as a con-
tributor to wider generalization.

It will be appreciated that the literature of the
field contains very few examples of this type.
Researchers always have attempted to maintain
thorough control and careful restriction and
standardization of their teaching procedures,
primarily to allow easy subsequent interpretation
of the nature of their (successful) teaching tech-
niques. Yet the import of this technique is that
careful management of teaching techniques to a
precisely repetitive handful of stimuli or formats
may, in fact, correspondingly restrict generaliza-
tion of the lessons being learned. The ultimate
force of this recommendation remains to be seen.
What seems required is programmatic research
aimed at assessing the generalization character-
istics of lessons taught under careful, restricted
conditions, relative to similar lessons taught
under looser, more variable conditions.

6. Use Indiscriminable Contingencies
Intermittent schedules of reinforcement have

been shown repeatedly to be particularly resistant
to extinction, relative to continuous schedules
(Ferster and Skinner, 1957). Resistance to extinc-
tion may be regarded as a form of generaliza-
tion-generalization across time subsequent to
learning. The essential feature of intermittent
schedules may be their unpredictability-the
impossibility of discriminating reinforcement oc-
casions from nonreinforcement occasions until
after the fact. Thus, if contingencies of reinforce-
ment or punishment, or the setting events that
mark the presence or absence of those contingen-
cies, are made indiscriminable, then generaliza-
tion may well be observed.

In generalization, behavior occurs in settings in
which it will not be reinforced, just as it does in
settings in which it will be reinforced. Then, the
analogue to an intermittent schedule, extended
to settings, is a condition in which the subject

cannot discriminate in which settings a response
will be reinforced or not reinforced. A potential
approximation to such a condition was presented
in a study by Schwarz and Hawkins (1970).
In that experiment, the behavior of a sixth-grade
child was videotaped during math and spelling
classes. Later, after each school day had ended,
the child was shown the tape of the math class
and awarded reinforcers according to how often
good posture, absence of face-touching, and ap-
propriate voice-loudness were evident on that
tape. Although reinforcers were awarded only
on the basis of behaviors displayed during the
math class, desirable improvements were ob-
served during the spelling class as well. In that
reinforcement was delayed, this technique must
have made it difficult for the child to discriminate
in which class the behaviors were critical for
earning reinforcement. In other words, the gen-
eralized success of the study may well be at-
tributable to the partly indiscriminable nature
of the reinforcement contingency.

In general, it may be suspected that delayed
reinforcement often will have the advantage of
making the times and places in which the con-
tingency actually operates indiscriminable to the
subject. However, this advantage is an advantage,
by hypothesis, primarily for the goal of general-
ization. Otherwise, delayed reinforcement would
often be considered an inefficient technique, most
especially so for the initial development of a new
skill. Indeed, it may be exactly in the realm of
disadvantaged persons such as retarded children
that the usual inefficiency of delayed reinforce-
ment may seem the most severe handicap to its
use. However, its potential for fostering general-
ization suggests strongly that further research be
invested in this procedure (and any others that
make reinforcement contingencies properly in-
discriminable), to develop methods of applying
it perhaps only after the initial development of a
new skill, in the interests of promoting gen-

Less than a dozen studies of generalization
interpretable as cases of indiscriminable rein-
forcement contingencies can be found in the



literature. Kazdin (1973), for example, showed
that teacher attention to one retarded child was
responded to by another child as if it were rein-
forcement for on-task behavior. Indeed, the
onlooker reacted with increased on-task behavior,
even when the teacher attended to the target
child’s off-task behavior. Possibly, prior experi-
ence with reinforcement contingent on the peers’
on-task behavior was sufficient to make all future
praise (contingent or not) discriminative for on-
task behavior. In other words, with sufficient
prior experience, the onlooker may have stopped
observing the contingency in which the rein-
forcement operated and responded only to the
reinforcing stimulus’ presence, making the con-
tingency functionally indiscriminable.

Generalization across subjects has similarly
been reported by Broden, Bruce, Mitchell, Carter,
and Hall (1970) in a classroom of culturally
disadvantaged children. When positive teacher
attention was given for one child’s attention to
academic work, the attending of a peer also in-
creased. This generalization was also a probable
function of the cueing properties of teacher rein-
forcement. However, the generalization observed
may also have been due to the manipulation of
natural social consequences received by the non-
target child through peer attention, or may have
been caused by a slight increase in the amount
of teacher attention to the nontarget child. These
effects deserve further systematic evaluation be-
cause of their relevance to the classroom prac-
tices of many teachers who strive to instruct
effectively but are unable to devote extensive
time to individual children.

Pendergrass (1972) showed that timeout could
be employed to decrease the destructive behavior
of two retarded children. With one subject, de-
creased rates were also observed with another
response (self-biting) which was sometimes
chained to the destructive behavior, but not
itself subjected to contingent timeout. However,
with the second subject, generalization to a sec-
ond response (autistic jerking movement) was
not observed. Analysis of the data revealed that
the two behaviors occurred simultaneously more

frequently with the subject with whom general-
ization was evidenced. Thus, with this subject,
punishment of the generalization response oc-
curred more frequently when destructive behav-
ior was punished. Unfortunately, it was not
determined how often the self-biting occurred
at times not simultaneous with the destructive
behavior. Therefore, the schedule of punishment
for self-biting was not established, i.e., whether
biting occurred only when destructive behavior
occurred and, therefore, always met the timeout
contingency. In this example (which was not
intended to be a careful analysis of the indis-
criminable reinforcement concept), not only was
the reinforcement contingency somewhat diffi-
cult to discriminate, but the two behaviors (de-
structive and self-destructive responses) also may
well have been only somewhat differentiated by
the subject.

Thus, preventing the ready discrimination of
contingencies is a generalization-programming
technique worthy of application and research.
Perhaps a random or haphazard delivery of re-
inforcement will (if luck or good judgement
prevails) function to modify targetted behavior
as well as behavior occurring in proximal time
or space. Even noncontingent reinforcement,
delivered at the outset of an intervention pro-
gram, may retard initial effects, but may work
to later advantage in generalization outcomes.

Finally, Kazdin and Polster (1973) showed
once again the usefulness of intermittent sched-
ules to delay subsequent extinction, relative to
continuous schedules of reinforcement. Social
interaction by two retardates was reinforced with
tokens. After establishing social interaction, one
subject received continuous reinforcement and
the other, intermittent reinforcement. During
extinction, only the subject who received inter-
mittent reinforcement continued to interact so-
cially with peers. However, these results may
simply reflect different extinction rates by two
subjects. The research was essentially a group
study where N 1. Adequate single-subject ex-
perimental control was lacking. Therefore, repli-
cation of these procedures would be desirable.


7. Program Common Stimuli

The passive approach to generalization de-
scribed earlier need not be a completely imprac-
tical one. If it is supposed that generalization
will occur, if only there are sufficient stimulus
components occurring in common in both the
training and generalization settings, then a rea-
sonably practical technique is to guarantee that
common and salient stimuli will be present in
both. One predictor of the salience of a stimulus
to be chosen for this role is its already established
function for other important behaviors of the

Children’s peers may represent peculiarly
suitable candidates for a stimulus common to
both training and generalization settings. An
example has been provided by Stokes and Baer
(1976). In their study, two children exhibiting
serious learning disabilities were recruited to
learn several word-recognition skills. One child
was taught these skills and concurrently shown
how to teach them to the other child, thus acting
as a peer-tutor. It was found that both children
reliably learned the skills, but that neither gen-
eralized them reliably or stably to somewhat dif-
ferent settings in which the other child usually
was absent. However, when the peer-tutor was
brought into those settings, then each child simi-
larly showed greatly increased and stabilized
generalization, even though there were never
any consequences for generalization. Similar
demonstrations have been provided by Johnston
and Johnston (1972) for the skill of speech
articulation. In that study, peers were rewarded
for correct monitoring of the subjects’ articula-
tion. Generalization of correct articulation oc-
curred only when the “monitoring” peer was
present. Unfortunately, it was not determined
clearly whether generalization was evidenced be-
cause of the discriminative properties of the
peers’ presence in both settings, or whether the
peers actively continued their monitoring in the
generalization setting.

Rincover and Koegel (1975) have also incor-
porated functional training stimuli into the gen-

eralization setting. Autistic children were re-
warded for imitation and instruction-following
in a training setting. Four of their 10 subjects
then did not exhibit generalization to a different
setting. Therefore, to program for this general-
ization, various aspects of the training procedures
(e.g., hand movement by therapist) or physical
training environment (e.g., table and chairs)
were systematically introduced to the generaliza-
tion setting to control generalization. Making
the experimental setting more closely resemble
the regular classroom (generalization setting)
was the programming procedure employed by
Koegel and Rincover (1974). They decreased
the teacher-to-student ratio in the experimental
setting from 1-to-i to 1-to-8. After these special
programming conditions were instituted, there
was increased performance on previously learned
and new behaviors learned in the classroom.
Walker and Buckley (1972) programmed gener-
alization of the effects of remedial training of
social and academic classroom behavior by estab-
lishing common stimuli between the experimen-
tal remedial classroom and the childrens’ regular
classroom by using the same academic materials
in both classrooms.

The literature of this field shows only a hand-
ful of studies deliberately making use of a com-
mon stimulus in both training and generalization
settings. Obviously, this is a technological dimen-
sion urgently in need of thorough development.
The use of peers as the common stimulus has
much to recommend it as a practical and natural
technique. To what extent peers need to partici-
pate in the training setting has not yet been
determined, although the absence of generaliza-
tion sometimes shown when peers are present
in nontraining settings, suggests that peers not
involved in a training setting will not likely
acquire sufficient discriminative function to con-
trol generalized responding. The use of common
physical stimuli is in even greater need of sys-
tematic research. A common stimulus approach
to generalization would encourage the incorpora-
tion into training settings of (naturally occur-
ring) physical stimuli that are frequently promi-



nent or functional in nontraining environments.
If these stimuli are well chosen, and can be made
functional and salient in the training procedures,
then generalization may thereby be programmed.

8. Mediate Generalization

Mediated generalization is well known as a
theoretical mechanism explaining generalization
of highly symbolic learnings (Cofer and Foley,
1942). In essence, it requires establishing a re-
sponse as part of the new learning that is likely
to be utilized in other problems as well, and will
constitute sufficient commonality between the
original learning and the new problem to result
in generalization. The most commonly used
mediator is language, apparently. However, the
deliberate application of language to accomplish
generalization is rare in the literature reviewed,
and correspondingly little is known about what
aspects of a language response make for best
A sophisticated analysis of mediated general-

ization was conducted by Risley and Hart ( 1968),
who taught preschool children to report at the
end of play on their play-material choices. Men-
tion of a given choice was reinforced with snacks,
which produced increased mentioning of that
choice, but no change in the children’s actual
use of that play-material. When reinforcement
was restricted to true reports of play-material
choices, however, the children then changed their
play behavior (the next day) so that when
queried about that play, they could truthfully
report on their use of the specified play material
and earn reinforcement. Control over any choice
of play materials proved possible with this tech-
nique, which placed teaching contingencies not
on the play, but on a potential mediator (verbal
report) of that play behavior. That the reports
were only potential mediators was apparent in
the early stages of the study, when the children
readily reported (untruly) their use of play ma-
terials with no corresponding actual behavior
with those materials; at that stage, they earned
reinforcement even so. When the reinforcement

was restricted to true reports, the reports then
became mediators of play behavior. The lesson
generalized, such that after several sequential
experiences with these procedures, the children
then used reports about play as mediators, even
without reinforcement being restricted to only
true reports. Israel and O’Leary (1973) used
essentially the same paradigm to compare the
effects of having children report first what they
would play with later, in contrast to having them
report after play what they had done (the Risley
and Hart method); they found that reinforcing
postreports (when they were true) produced more
actual behavior (the next day) than reinforcing
the actual behavior when it agreed with the
earlier promise to perform it. This technique has
been extended subsequently to the case of social
skills, specifically sharing and praising between
young children (Rogers-Warren and Baer, 1976).
In that case, modelling was added, such that the
young children would have a thorough chance
to learn the nature of the relatively complex
responses at issue.

Obviously, verbal mediation can easily fail,
most especially in those situations in which the
verbal mediators have little meaning (i.e., tightly
restricted discriminative value) for the subjects.
It is commonplace to find children agreeing to a
query (e.g., about whether they praised or shared)
without any knowledge of what that must entail
in actual behavior. In the case of retarded chil-
dren, it might be particularly true that the ability
to use verbal responses as mediators would lag
behind that of normal children using the same
language responses. It may be reasonable to
suggest that in the development of language-
training programs, systematic attention be given
to the training of language skills sufficiently well
elaborated to function as mediators of nonverbal
behavior. Language is a response, of course; it is
also, equally obviously, a stimulus to the speaker
as well as to the listener. Thus, it meets perfectly
the logic of a salient common stimulus, to be
carried from any training setting to any general-
ization setting that the child may ever enter.
It also perfectly exemplifies the essence of the



active generalization approach recommended
The mediation of generalization is also exem-

plified in the behavior analysis research of self-
control and self-management procedures. That
is, self-control procedures such as self-recording,
taught as part of an intervention program, may
function to promote generalization: such tech-
niques are easy to transport and may be em-
ployed readily to facilitate responding under
generalization conditions. Some research that has
employed any or all of the various tactics of self-
assessment, self-recording, self-determination of
reinforcement, and/or self-administration of re-
inforcement (Glynn, Thomas, and Shee, 1973),
has also displayed maintenance and generaliza-
tion of behavior change; however, the correla-
tion is not perfect.

Broden, Hall, and Mitts (1971) reported that
after an eighth-grade girl experienced self-
recording of study behavior and teacher praise
for improved study, her study behavior main-
tained at a high level for a recorded three weeks.
Although the individual effects of the self-record-
ing and praise were not determined, it is possible
that the self-recording procedures contributed
significantly to this generalization.

Drabman, Spitalnik, and O’Leary (1973)
taught disruptive children to match their teach-
er’s evaluations of their appropriate classroom
behavior. Tokens were dispensed for appropriate
classroom behavior and accurate matching. Dis-
ruptive classroom behavior decreased and was
maintained at low levels during a 12-day phase
when tokens were not dispensed for self-record-
ing accuracy. Generalized behavior improvement
was also evident during a 15-min no-token
period within the experimental hour. These
changes were possibly a function of the close
temporal proximity of the token periods, which
frequently immediately preceded or followed
the generalization period.

The role of self-control procedures in medi-
ating generalization has often been proposed.
Research would do well to examine the contri-
bution of self-control tactics in generalization

and maintenance, especially when formal inter-
vention manipulations have ceased to operate.
The effects of accompanying procedures should
be experimentally separated from self-control
effects, and the role of each of the various self-
control tactics (Glynn et al., 1973) should be
individually analyzed. The potential of self-
mediated generalization is apparent, but its im-
plications and practical utility still remain to be

9. Train “To Generalize”
If generalization is considered as a response

itself, then a reinforcement contingency may be
placed on it, the same as with any other operant.
Informally, teachers often do this when they urge
a student who has been taught one example of
a general principle to “see” another example
as “the same thing”. (In principle, they are also
attempting to make use of language as a medi-
ator of generalization, relying on the supposed
characteristics of words like “same” to accom-
plish the generalization.) Common observation
suggests that the method often fails, and that
when it does succeed, little extrinsic reinforce-
ment is offered as a consequence. A more formal
example of the technique was seen in a study
by Goetz and Baer (1973), in which three pre-
school children were taught to generalize the
response of making block forms (in blockbuild-
ing play). Descriptive social reinforcement was
offered only for every different form the child
made, i.e., contingent on every first appearance
of any blockbuilding form within a session, but
not for any subsequent appearances of that form.
Thus, the child was rewarded for moving along
the generalization gradient underlying block-
form inventions, and never for staying at any
one point. In general, the technique succeeded, in
that the children steadily invented new block
forms while this contingency was in use. Thus,
there exists the possibility of programming rein-
forcement specifically, perhaps only, for move-
ment along the generalization gradient desired.

In largely unspecified ways, perhaps two other
studies exemplify this logic. Herbert and Baer



(1972), for example, taught two mothers of
deviant children to give social reinforcement
only to their children’s appropriate behaviors,
but taught the mothers from the outset to judge
all behavior according to criteria they helped
to develop, rather than attack only a few speci-
fied child responses. These mothers learned a
generalized skill because they applied correct
social contingencies to categories that included
virtually all appropriate child behavior likely to
occur. Behavior changes were maintained at 20
and 24 weeks after completion of formal train-
ing. Similarly, Parsonson, Baer, and Baer (1974)
taught two teachers of retarded children to apply
generalized correct social contingencies to all
likely appropriate and inappropriate behaviors
of preschool retarded children. These effects were
also durable over several months. Apparently
generalized changes were produced in these stud-
ies by Herbert and Baer and Parsonson et al.,
but the extent and quality of that generalization
was not quantified as such.

Very few studies of this type are found in the
literature of applied behavior analysis, probably
because of the preference of behaviorists to con-
sider generalization as an outcome of behavioral
change, rather than as a behavior itself. Ulti-
mately, this behavioristic stance may well prove
durable and consistent. Meanwhile, it is worth
hypothesizing that “to generalize” may be treated
as if it were an operant response, and reinforced
as such, simply to see what useful results occur.

Consequently, one other technique deserves
discussion: the systematic use of instructions to
facilitate generalization. Thus, if a behavior is
taught and generalization is not displayed, the
least expensive of all techniques is to tell the
subject about the possibility of generalization
and then ask for it. If that generalization then
occurs, it may well be referred to as “instructed
generalization”. If the effects of that instruction
are themselves to become generalized (yielding
a “generalized generalizer”?), then reinforcement
of the generalized behavior, on a suitable sched-
ule, might well be prudent, at least at first. Per-
haps it is simply a very elaborate version of this

technique that is being practiced when a client
is taught to relax in a somewhat anxiety-arousing
situation, and reinforced (socially) for doing so;
and then is instructed to relax in a somewhat
more powerful anxiety-arousing situation, etc.
That is, systematic desensitization to a heirarchy
of stimuli may be analyzed as reinforcing not just
relaxation, but also generalization along an al-
ready constructed generalization gradient (cf.
Yates, 1970, p. 64ff.).


The structure of the generalization literature
and its implicit embryonic technology has been
summarized. The most frequent treatments of
generalization are also the least analytical-those
described as Train and Hope and Sequential
Modification. Included in the category of Train
and Hope were those studies where the potential
for generalization had been recognized, its pres-
ence or absence noted, but no particular effort
was expended to accomplish generalization. By
contrast, some limited programming was imple-
mented in the Sequential Modification research.
In these studies, given an absence of reliable
generalization, procedures to effect changes were
instituted directly in every nongeneralized condi-
tion. Although contributing significantly to our
understanding of the generalization of behavior-
change programs, these studies are not examples
of the programming of generalization.

Seven categories were discussed that directly
relate to a technology of generalization. First,
the potential role of Natural Maintaining Con-
tingencies was discussed. According to this tactic,
generalization may be programmed by suitable
trapping manipulations, where responses are in-
troduced to natural reinforcement communities
that refine and maintain those skills without
further therapeutic intervention. The Training
of Sufficient Exemplars is numerically the most
extensive area of programming: generalization
to untrained stimulus conditions and to un-
trained responses is programmed by the training
of sufficient exemplars of those stimulus condi-



tions or responses. Train Loosely is a program-
ming technique in which training is conducted
with relatively little control over the stimuli and
responses involved, and generalization is thereby
enhanced. To invoke the tactic of Indiscrimi-
nable Contingencies, the contingencies of re-
inforcement or punishment, or the setting events
marking the presence or absence of those con-
tingencies, are deliberately made less predictable,
so that it becomes difficult to discriminate rein-
forcement occasions from nonreinforcement oc-
casions. Common Stimuli may be employed in
generalization programming by incorporating
into training settings social and physical stimuli
that are salient in generalization settings, and
that can be made to assume functional or obvious
roles in the training setting. Mediated General-
ization requires establishing a response as part
of new learning that is likely to be utilized in
other problems as well, and thus result in gener-
alization. The final technique, Train “To Gener-
alize”, involves reinforcing generalization itself
as if it were an explicit behavior. These program-
ming techniques should be researched further
and usefully applied in programs in which gen-
eralization is relevant.

This list of generalized tactics conceals within
itself a much smaller list of specific tactics. These
specific tactics can be presented as a small pic-
ture of the generalization technology in its pres-
ent most pragmatic form, not only to offer a set
of what-to-do possibilities, but also to emphasize
how very small the current technology is and
how much development it requires:

1. Look for a response that enters a natural
community; in particular, teach subjects to
cue their potential natural communities to
reinforce their desirable behaviors.

2. Keep training more exemplars; in particu-
lar, diversify them.

3. Loosen experimental control over the stim-
uli and responses involved in training; in
particular, train different examples concur-
rently, and vary instructions, SDs, social
reinforcers, and backup reinforcers.

4. Make unclear the limits of training contin-
gencies; in particular, conceal, when pos-
sible, the point at which those contingen-
cies stop operating, possibly by delayed

5. Use stimuli that are likely to be found in
generalization settings in training settings
as well; in particular, use peers as tutors.

6. Reinforce accurate self-reports of desirable
behavior; apply self-recording and self-
reinforcement techniques whenever possi-

7. When generalizations occur, reinforce at
least some of them at least sometimes, as
if “to generalize” were an operant response

There are many examples of generalization
and nongeneralization of behavior changes. The
fact that apparently unprogrammed generaliza-
tion has been demonstrated (particularly across
time) is valuable. It heralds a practicality de-
sirable in any technology of behavior: that every
one of a subjects’ responses, in every setting,
with every experimenter, and at every conceiv-
able time does not need to meet specific treat-
ment consequences for that program to accom-
plish and maintain important behavior changes.
Alternatively, the fact that generalization is not
always observed and durability is not inevitable
means that there is hope for behavior modifica-
tion: behavior can always be modified and
changes are not necessarily irreversible. That is,
once behavior has been modified, there is still
the possibility of reconditioning if changes are
undesirable or inappropriate, or if new inappro-
priate behaviors develop. If both appropriate
and inappropriate behavior changes were to per-
sist and prove irreversible, it would presage the
demise of any technology of behavioral inter-
vention. This occurrence of nongeneralization
also underlines the need to develop a technology
of generalization, so that programming will be
a fundamental component of any procedures
when durability and generalization of behavior
changes are desirable.



A most important question is prompted by an
examination of the previous research: does gen-
eralization ever occur without programming?
In the above research, generalization was not al-
ways evident. In fact, the highly discriminated
effects of some operant programs were some-
times documented. We have seen that the behav-
ior analysis literature describes various programs
that have shown that generalization may be pro-
moted or programmed by particular intervention
techniques. It seems reasonable to suggest, then,
that many of the successful Train-and-Hope
examples cited above may be undiagnosed in-
stances of informal or inadvertent programming
techniques, rather than an absence of program-
ming techniques. It cannot be discounted, and is
indeed possible, that these generalization exam-
ples may simply depict successful programmed
generalization, and neither the authors of those
papers, nor the present authors have recognized
or hypothesized the programming technique.

Perhaps the most pragmatic orientation for
behavior analysts is to assume that generalization
does not occur except through some form of pro-
gramming. Thus, the best course of action seems
to be that of systematic measurement and analy-
sis of variables that may have been functional in
any apparently unprogrammed generalization.
These analyses should be included as part of all
research where “unprogrammed” generalized be-
havior changes are evidenced, for discriminated
behavior changes may well be the rule if gen-
eralization is not specifically programmed. Such
analyses, if successful, will contribute to a tech-
nology of generalization by further developing
the understanding of critical variables that func-
tion to produce generalization, and would further
emphasize the need always to be concerned not
only with generalization issues, but with the vari-
ous techniques that accomplish generalization.

In other words, behavioral research and prac-
tice should act as if there were no such animal
as “free” generalization-as if generalization
never occurs “naturally”, but always requires
programming. Then, “programmed generaliza-
tion” is essentially a redundant term, and snould

be descriptive only of the active regard of re-
searchers and practitioners.

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Garcia, E. The training and generalization of a
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Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1974, 7,

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Gelfand, D. M., Gelfand, S., and Dobson, W. R.
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Guess, D., Sailor, W., Rutherford, G., and Baer, D. M.
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Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1968, 1,

Hall, R. V. and Broden, M. Behavior changes in
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Herbert, E. W. and Baer, D. M. Training parents
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Horner, R. D. Establishing use of crutches by a
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Stokes, T. F., Baer, D. M., and Jackson, R. L. Pro-
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Received 22 December 1975.
(Final acceptance 3 June 1976.)

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