Meichenbaum, D. H., & Goodman, J. (1971). Training impulsive children to talk to themselves: A means of developing self-control. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 77(2), 115–126.

A cognitive self-instruction training program designed to get impulsive children to self-verbalize was successful in modifying their behavior. Further study, however, showed that the self-instruction part of the training was necessary for improved performance.

Researchers examined the efficacy of the training program through two studies. The first studied second-grade children placed in remedial class. Students’ behavior and performance were measured before and after treatment as well as in a one-month follow-up. Students were divided into three groups. The members of the cognitive self-guidance group received four individual sessions in which they first observed self-verbalization in the performance of a task being modeled and then they slowly took over increasing amounts of this sets of behaviors. The assessment control group received the same number of sessions in which its members were exposed to the same materials and performed the same activities but without any self-instruction training. The assessment control group only received the same pre-, post-, and follow-up assessments. Although there was no difference between the groups in their classroom behavior, the self-guidance group showed improved performance on a variety of tests of cognitive impulsivity, improvements that still appeared a month later in the follow-up testing.

These encouraging results led researchers to conduct the second study on impulsive kindergarten and first graders. The members of the cognitive modeling group observed an experimenter model a set of verbalizations and behaviors before being given the opportunity to practice the behavior. The members of the cognitive modeling plus self-instructional training group observed the same modeling behavior, but not the verbalizations. Instead, they received training to produce the omitted self-instructions. Afterward, they performed repeated practice trials while talking aloud. The attention control group observed the behavior and received the opportunity to practice it, but only with general statements for accompanying verbalizations. The findings showed that the cognitive modeling slowed down impulsive behavior, but did not reduce errors. Only the cognitive modeling plus self-instructional training was effective at both slowing decision time and reducing errors.

{Note that the final stage in the cognitive self-instruction training and the cognitive modeling plus self-instructional training was for the students to speak “covertly (without lip movements)”. I am not sure if this affects how well it fits with your goals.}

***{Quote from p.124-5 indicating references to possibly pursue later}

“We have explored in a series of studies the use of behavior modification techniques to alter the self-verbalizations of such patients as phobics, schizophrenics, smokers, speech- and test-anxious 5s, as well as impulsive children (Meichenbaum, 1970, 1971; Meichenbaum, Gilmore, & Fedoravicius, 1971, in press; Steffy, Meichenbaum, & Best, 1970). In each case, therapeutically attending to the patient’s self-verbalizations, as well as his overt maladaptive behavior, has led to greater behavioral change, greater generalization, and greater persistence of treatment effects.”

*MEICHENBAUM, D. Examination of model characteristics in reducing avoidance behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1971, 17, 298-307.

MEICHENBAUM, D., GILMORE, J, B., & FEDORAVICIUS, A. Group insight versus group desensitization in treating speech anxiety. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1971, in press.

STEFFY, R., MEICHENBAUM, D., & BEST, A. Aversive and cognitive factors in the modification of smoking behavior. Behavior Research and Therapy, 1970, 8, 115-125.

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