Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Exemplar Training and a Derived Transformation of Function in Accordance with Symmetry

Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Exemplar Training and a Derived Transformation of Function in Accordance with Symmetry

Article excerpt

The main purpose of the present study was to determine whether exemplar training would readily facilitate the transformation of function in accordance with symmetry. Sixteen children, aged between 4 and 5 years, were employed across four experiments (i.e., 4 children each in Experiments 1 to 4). In Experiment 1, subjects were first trained to name two actions and two objects by demonstrating listening, echoic, and tacting behaviors (e.g., hear name [right arrow] point to object, hear name [right arrow] say name, see object [right arrow] say name, respectively). This name training served to establish that each of the subjects could clearly discriminate the experimental stimuli. Subjects were then trained in an action-object conditional discrimination using the previously named actions and objects (e.g., when the experimenter waved, choosing a toy car was reinforced, and when the experimenter clapped, choosing a doll was reinforced). Subjects were then reexposed to the name training, before exposure to a test f or derived object-action symmetry relations (e.g., experimenter presents toy car [right arrow] child waves and experimenter presents doll [right arrow] child claps). Across subsequent sessions, a multiple-baseline design was used to introduce exemplar training (i.e., explicit symmetry training) for those subjects who failed the symmetry test. Experiment 2 replicated Experiment 1, except that the name retraining (between the conditional discrimination training and symmetry test) was removed. Experiment 3 replicated Experiment 1, except that subjects were trained to tact all of the actions and objects during conditional discrimination training and symmetry testing. Experiment 4 replicated Experiment 1, except that the trained and tested relations were reversed (i.e., train object-action, test action-object relations). Across the four experiments, 13 out of 16 subjects failed to show derived object-action (Experiments 1-3) or action-object (Experiment 4) symmetry until they received explicit symmetry training. O verall, the data are consistent with Relational Frame Theory.

In Sidman's (1971) seminal study of stimulus equivalence, a learning-disabled individual was trained and tested in a series of conditional discriminations. Specifically, the subject was trained to pick Stimulus B (picture of a car) in the presence of a Sample Stimulus A (dictated word "car"). In this way, a relation between the Stimuli A and B, or relation AB, was trained. An AC relation was similarly trained when picking Stimulus C (printed word 'car') in the presence of Sample Stimulus A (dictated word "car") was reinforced. Following this type of explicit training in AB and AC relations, the subject picked Stimulus C (printed word 'car') from a range of comparison stimuli (other printed words) in the presence of Sample Stimulus B (picture of a car). Thus a BC relation emerged without having been trained directly. Similarly, the subject chose Stimulus B from a range of comparisons when presented with Stimulus C as a sample, thus demonstrating an untrained emergent CB relation. The derived relations of BC a nd CB in this instance constituted what Sidman has called a test for stimulus equivalence.

In the years that followed, Sidman conducted a range of related studies (see Sidman, 1994) and developed his mathematical set theory of the emergent behaviors that are typically observed in equivalence-type research. A core assumption of Sidman's account is that equivalence responding constitutes another basic stimulus function similar, for example, to reinforcement, discriminative control, or stimulus generalization. Other researchers, however, have been less than satisfied with this assumption. They have argued that equivalence may not be a newly discovered basic or fundamental behavioral process, but rather may be generated from already established basic behavioral processes. One theory that is most relevant here is Relational Frame Theory (RFT) (Hayes, Barnes-Holmes, & Roche, in press). …

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