Smeets, Barnes, Schenk, & Darcheville, 1996

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APA Citation: 

Smeets, P., Barnes, D., & Schenk, J., & Darcheville, J. (1996). Emergent simple discriminations and conditional relations in children, adults with mental retardation, and normal adults. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 49(B), 201-219.

Publication Topic: 
RFT: Empirical
Publication Type: 
Article
Language: 
English
Keyword(s): 
Discrimination tasks, paired stimuli
Abstract: 

Previous research ha s shown that when, under non-reinforced conditions, stimuli are added to S+ and S- stimuli in simultaneous discrimination tasks, transfer between paired stimuli is likely to occur. The present study examined whether this procedure also leads to the formation of conditional relations between paired stimuli. In Experiments 1, 2, and 3, normal pre-school children were trained on a simultaneous discrimination task with A1 reinforced and A2 not reinforced (A1+/A2- ). Then they received two tests (no programmed consequences): one with B stimuli superimposed on the A stimuli (A1B1/ A2B2), and one with B stimuli only (B1/B2). Subjects who selected A1B1 and B1 also received conditional discrimination tests: one with B1 or B2 as samples and A1 and A2 as comparisons (B-A), and one in which the functions of these stimuli were reversed (A-B). Intellectually impaired adults and normal adults served in Experiments 4 and 5, respectively. These experiments were basically the same except that the subjects were also given the opportunity to demonstrate transfer from B to C via BC (B1C1/B2C2 and C1/C2 tests). Most children (75%) and intellectually impaired adults (75%) treated the conditional discrimination probe tasks as simple discriminations and typically selected the trained and derived S+ stimuli. The remaining children, intellectually impaired adults, and all normal adults related all directly and indirectly linked stimuli of the same functions conditionally to one another (A-B, B-C, A-C, and vice versa). The present findings suggest that, as humans develop, conditional stimulus relations may emerge from tasks and stimulus configurations that are increasingly remote from traditional conditional discrimination tasks.

Comments: 
The authors, researchers at Leiden University and University College Cork, conducted the present study based on previous research has shown that when, under non-reinforced conditions, stimuli are added to S+ and S- stimuli in simultaneous discrimination tasks, transfer between paired stimuli is likely to occur. The present study examined whether this procedure also leads to the formation of conditional relations between paired stimuli. The present findings suggest that, as humans develop, conditional stimulus relations may emerge from tasks and stimulus configurations that are increasingly remote from traditional conditional discrimination tasks.
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