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An exploratory analysis of Relational Density Theory: Relational resistance and gravity (Pages 80-95)

Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (JCBS)

Volume 16, April 2020, Pages 80-95


Jordan Belisle, Mark R. Dixon


We conducted an initial exploration of several model assumptions in Relational Density Theory (Belisle & Dixon, in press) across two experiments with 18 college student participants. The first experiment showed that relational density (response accuracy/response time) may be influenced by relative rates of reinforcement or training exposure, and that denser classes were more resistant to counterconditioning (i.e., relational resistance). In the second experiment, two classes were established that differed in size, and for most initial participants, greater density was obtained for the smaller class. When a third class was established, and a class member from the third class was presented as a sample along with competing comparison stimuli from the initial two classes, most participants matched the new class member with the denser class (i.e., relational gravity). Additional participants were added, and a familiar stimulus was substituted into the larger class. For all additional participants, greater density was observed for the larger class containing the familiar stimulus, and participants matched the new class member with the larger-denser class. Results support several model assumptions, but several model inconsistent findings are presented as avenues for future research.

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