Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Establishing Arbitrarily Applicable Relations of Same and Opposite with the Relational Completion Procedure: Selection-Based Feedback

Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Establishing Arbitrarily Applicable Relations of Same and Opposite with the Relational Completion Procedure: Selection-Based Feedback

Article excerpt

Research on derived stimulus relations has grown exponentially over the past few decades (e.g., Dymond & Critchfield, 2001; Dymond, May, Munnelly, & Hoon, 2010; Rehfeldt, 2011). In 1991, Steele and Hayes reported the first demonstration of contextually controlled derived stimulus relations of sameness and opposition. Nowadays, the procedures described by Steele and Hayes (1991) to train and test contextually controlled derived stimulus relations continue to be used in numerous studies. These procedures involve two sequential phases. First, to study multiple stimulus relations such as same and opposite, it is necessary to establish contextual functions for two cues using nonarbitrary stimuli related along formal (i.e., physical) dimensions. In the nonarbitrary relational training phase, a contextual cue, a sample, and two or more comparison stimuli are presented on each trial. If the cue designated OPPOSITE' is presented, choosing a comparison stimulus that is furthest removed from the sample along a specified physical dimension is reinforced. For example, given a large square as sample, choosing the smallest square among three or more squares of different sizes is reinforced. On other trials, a cue designated SAME is presented, and choosing the comparison that is physically identical to the sample is reinforced. Participants are trained in this way, across numerous exemplars of stimuli differing along various physical dimensions (e.g., big and small circles, thick and thin lines, few and many dots, etc.) until they respond appropriately, in the absence of further feedback, to novel sets of samples and comparisons in the presence of the cues.

It is important when training Same and Opposite contextual control that only selections of the comparison that is furthest along the specified dimension from the sample are reinforced. If selections of intermediate dimensions are reinforced, then it becomes difficult to distinguish Opposite from Different control (i.e., participants may learn to pick the comparison that is different from the sample, rather than opposite along the specified physical dimension). The extent to which one stimulus may be said to be "opposite of" another stimulus always involves an appeal to a formal, physical dimension obtaining between the two: " ... the relational frame of opposition typically specifies the dimension of relevance (e.g., 'pretty is the opposite of ugly' is relevant only to appearance and not to, say, speed), but as an arbitrarily applicable relational response, it can be applied even when no physical dimension of relevance has been specified" (Hayes, Fox, et al., 2001, p. 36).

Second, in the arbitrary relational training phase, the contextual cues are then presented with samples and comparisons that are not related to each other along any consistent formal dimension such as nonsense syllables or line drawings. For instance, participants may be presented with one of the contextual cues, followed by the sample stimulus "ZIF" and three comparison stimuli, "CUG," "QAY," and "VEK."

In the presence of SAME, choosing CUG is reinforced (i.e., SAME: Al-B1) while in the presence of Opposite, choosing VEK is reinforced (i.e., OPPOSITE: A1-B2). Training proceeds in this manner for all further tasks (A-C, etc.) until criterion is reached. In effect, the contextual functions established during the nonarbitrary phase are arbitrarily applied, and participants come to relational respond to arbitrary, physically dissimilar stimuli as if they were "same" and "opposite" to one another.

Consider, for instance, the procedures reported by Steele and Hayes (1991), who first trained participants to relate same stimuli (e.g., a short line with a short line) in the presence of one contextual cue and opposite stimuli (e.g., a short line with a long line) in the presence of a second contextual cue. A third contextual cue was also employed but is not. relevant for present purposes. …

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