Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Contextual Control over the Derived Transformation of Discriminative and Sexual Arousal Functions

Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Contextual Control over the Derived Transformation of Discriminative and Sexual Arousal Functions

Article excerpt

A previous study by Roche and Barnes (1997) examined the transformation of conditioned sexual arousal in accordance with arbitrary relations. The current research replicated and extended that study by attempting to bring the derived transformation effect under contextual control. In Experiment 1, the functions of hand waving and clapping were first established for two nonsense syllables (called B1 and 82, respectively). Subjects were then exposed to relational pretraining, similar to that employed by Steele and Hayes (1991), in order to establish the contextual functions of Same and Opposite in two arbitrary stimuli. Subsequently, subjects were trained in the following relations; Same/A1-[[underline{B1}]-B2-N1], Same/A1-[[underline{C1}]-C2-N2], Opposite/A1-[B1-[underline{B2}]-N1], Opposite/A1-[C1-[underline{C2}]-N2], (underlined comparison stimuli indicate reinforced choices) from which the following relational responses emerged; Same/B1 -C1; Same/B2-C2; Opposite/B1 -C2; Opposite/B2-C1. During a testing phase, the stimulus functions established for 81 em erged for Olin the presence of Same (i.e., the subjects waved) but those established for B2 emerged for C1 in the presence of Opposite (i.e., the subjects clapped). Similarly, the functions of 82 emerged for C2 in the presence of Same (i.e., the subjects clapped), but those established for 81 emerged for 02 in the presence of Opposite (i.e., the subjects waved). Experiment 2 established similar results using respondent eliciting functions in the place of hand clapping and waving.

The analysis of derived relational responding is both interesting and important because it has opened up new vistas of research into human language and complex behavior. Most research on derived relational responding has focused on the familiar stimulus equivalence effect. Studying this effect typically involves training subjects on a series of conditional discriminations (e.g., choose a stimulus, B1, given Al, and choose Cl given Al). Following this training, most subjects will choose Al given B1 and Al given Cl (i.e., symmetry), and choose Cl given B1 and Bl given Cl (i.e., transitivity) without reinforcement. When a subject demonstrates this performance the three stimuli, A, B, and C, are said to participate in an equivalence relation.

Although the equivalence paradigm has been employed in the analysis of a variety of complex human behaviors, such as social categorization (Watt, Keenan, Barnes, & Cairns, 1991), sexual categorization (Roche & Barnes, 1996), sexual stereotyping (Moxon, Keenan, & Hine, 1993), and self-awareness (Dymond & Barnes, 1995), it is nevertheless limited in empirical and conceptual scope. More specifically, the conceptualization of equivalence as a type of stimulus class permits only one such type of derived relation (see Hayes & Barnes, 1997). Relational Frame Theory (RFT), however, extends the analysis of derived relational responding by treating equivalence as just one instance of this phenomenon (Barnes & Roche, 1996; Dymond & Barnes, 1995; Hayes & Barnes, 1997; Hayes & Hayes, 1989; Roche & Barnes, 1996, 1997; Steele & Hayes, 1991).

To date, several studies have provided empirical evidence that it is possible for human subjects to respond in accordance with relations other than equivalence, such as Opposition and Difference (Barnes & Roche, 1996; Roche & Barnes, 1996; Steele & Hayes, 1991), and More Than and Less Than (Dymond & Barnes, 1995). Stimulus relations such as Difference, Opposition, More Than, and Less Than are defined by different behavioral patterns. Whereas equivalence always yields the same derived relations across pairs of stimuli in a set (i.e., if A is equivalent to B and B is equivalent to C, then A and C are also equivalent), the relations of Opposition and Difference do not. In the case of Opposition, if A is the opposite of B and B is the opposite of C, then A and C are the same, not opposite. …

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