Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology


Clinical Psychology




Increasing amounts of attention have been paid in recent years to the effects of peer interaction on healthy development in children. The present study taught isolate children to act as peer modifiers in a semi-structured play group, delivering reinforcement for two classes of play initiations. Frequency of the two classes of play initiations, amount of positive reinforcement delivered, negative behavior and hovering emitted by isolates was recorded on a daily basis in a free play session preceding treatment.

Five isolate children were selected using the standardized criteria in the Social Assessment Manual for Preschool Level. Using a multiple base line across subjects design, isolates participated in half-hour play sessions four consecutive days per week over 36-40 days. Data were analyzed using graphical and time series analysis. Three week and six month follow-up of isolate children was conducted.

The five isolate peer modifiers displayed significant increases in play initiations as a function of treatment, which were maintained at three week and six month follow-up. Standarized assessment measures placed the subjects in non-isolate ranges of social skills at three week and six month follow-up. Vicarious and natural reinforcement contingencies may account for the long-term intervention effects.



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