Whelan & Barnes-Holmes, 2004

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APA Citation: 

Whelan, R., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2004). Empirical models of formative augmenting in accordance with the relations of same, opposite, more-than, and less-than. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 4, 285-302.

Publication Topic: 
RFT: Empirical
Publication Type: 
empirical models; formative augmenting; function transformation; reinforcing functions; punishers; consequential stimulus

In the Relational Frame Theory literature, the term "formative augmenting" is used to describe transformations of function that establish particular consequences as either reinforcers or as punishers. This type of behavior is important because derived consequential stimuli may control behavior in the absence of direct training. The experiments described here are laboratory models of formative augmenting, in accordance with the relations of Same, Opposite, More-than and Less-than. In the first experiment, a member of a relational network seemed to acquire reinforcing functions, based on the derived relations of Same and Opposite, although no such function had actually been established for any member of that network. In the second experiment, the consequential functions of stimuli were manipulated in accordance with the relations of More-than and Less-than. In a subsequent operant task, subjects consistently emitted the response that produced the higher-ranked consequential stimulus, thus demonstrating a transformation of consequential functions.

Authors demonstrated through two experiments that stimuli acquired reinforcing functions based on derived relational networks. This research supports the idea of formative augmenting: the degree to which events function as consequences was altered based on relational networks of Same and Opposite and more-than and less-than.
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