Healy, Barnes-Holmes, & Smeets, 2000

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APA Citation: 

Healy, O., Barnes-Holmes, D., & Smeets, P. M. (2000). Derived relational responding as generalized operant behavior. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 74(2), 207-227.

Publication Topic: 
RFT: Conceptual
Publication Type: 
generalized operant class, relational frame theory, mutual entailment, combinatorial entailment, equivalence relation, matching to sample, humans

The major aim of the present study was to demonstrate that derived relational responding may be viewed as a form of generalized operant behavior. In Experiment 1, 4 subjects were divided into two conditions (2 in each condition). Using a two-comparison matching-to-sample procedure, all subjects were trained and tested for the formation of two combinatorially entailed relations. Subjects were trained and tested across multiple stimulus sets. Each set was composed of novel stimuli. Both Conditions 1 and 2 involved explicit performance-contingent feedback presented at the end of each block of test trials (i.e., delayed feedback). In Condition 1, feedback was accurate (consistent with the experimenter-designated relations) following exposure to the initial stimulus sets. When subjects’ responding reached a predefined mastery criterion, the feedback then switched to inaccurate (not consistent with the experimenter-designated relations) until responding once again reached a predefined criterion. Condition 2 was similar to Condition 1, except that exposure to the initial stimulus sets was followed by inaccurate feedback and once the criterion was reached feedback switched to accurate. Once relational responding emerged and stabilized, response patterns on novel stimulus sets were controlled by the feedback delivered for previous stimulus sets. Experiment 2 replicated Experiment 1, except that during Conditions 3 and 4 four comparison stimuli were employed during training and testing. Experiment 3 was similar to Condition 1 of Experiment 1, except that after the mastery criterion was reached for class-consistent responding, feedback alternated from accurate to inaccurate across each successive stimulus set. Experiment 4 involved two types of feedback, one type following tests for mutual entailment and the other type following tests for combinatorial entailment. Results from this experiment demonstrated that mutual and combinatorial entailment may be controlled independently by accurate and inaccurate feedback. Overall, the data support the suggestion, made by relational frame theory, that derived relational responding is a form of generalized operant behavior.

Demonstrated that response patterns on novel stimulus sets was controlled by the feedback delivered for previous stimulus sets.
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