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An interactive modeling technique for acquisition of communication skills: Separation of “labeling” and “requesting” in a psittacine subject

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2008

Irene M. Pepperberg*
Northwestern University
Irene M. Pepperberg, Department of Anthropology and the Program on Language and Cognition, Northwestern University, 1810 Hinman Avenue, Evanston, IL 60208, U.S.A.


An African gray parrot, previously taught by an interactive modeling technique to vocalize labels for several objects and instances of color and shape, was similarly taught to employ the vocalization “want” before an object label so as to discriminate functional “labeling” from “requesting.” The parrot's use of “want” subsequently generalized to novel situations. There was no decrease in the accuracy of labeling ability during training, a problem that arose when nonmodeling techniques were employed with chimpanzees. The results suggest that the procedure might be applicable to intervention programs for humans with specific communicative deficits.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1988

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