Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Generating Derived Relational Networks Via the Abstraction of Common Physical Properties: A Possible Model of Analogical Reasoning

Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Generating Derived Relational Networks Via the Abstraction of Common Physical Properties: A Possible Model of Analogical Reasoning

Article excerpt

The aim of this study was to provide a demonstration of equivalence-equivalence responding based on the abstraction of common formal properties, thus extending the functional-analytic model of analogical reasoning shown by Barnes, Hegarty, and Smeets (1997). In Experiment 1, 9 college students were taught, using a delayed matching-to-sample procedure, to choose a particular nonsense syllable in the presence of each of four blue and four red geometric shapes. In a subsequent test, all 9 subjects demonstrated equivalence formation based on the abstraction of color by consistently matching nonsense syllables related to same-colored shapes to each other. Of these 9 subjects, 8 then showed equivalence-equivalence responding in which equivalence relations from the previous part of the experiment were related to other equivalence relations and nonequivalence relations were related to other nonequivalence relations. In Experiment 2, 3 out of 4 additional subjects showed this analogical-type responding based on large r relational networks than those established in Experiment 1, and in Experiment 3, 3 further subjects showed analogical responding based on the abstraction of the relatively complex property of age.

Relational Frame Theory (Hayes, 1991) is one of a number of different behavior analytic theories that attempt to account for the phenomenon of stimulus equivalence and derived relational responding more generally (e.g., Hayes, 1991; see also Barnes & Roche, 1996; Hayes & Barnes, 1997). According to Relational Frame Theory (RFT), derived or arbitrarily applicable relational responding is established, to an important extent, by an appropriate history of multiple exemplar training (see Barnes, 1994, 1996; Barnes & Holmes, 1991; Barnes & Roche, 1996; Hayes, 1991, 1994; Hayes & Hayes, 1989, 1992). Naming constitutes, perhaps, one of the earliest and most essential forms of arbitrarily applicable relational responding. For example, a caregiver will often say the name of an object in the presence of an infant and then reinforce any orienting response that occurs towards the particular object. This interaction might be described as, hear name A [right arrow] look at object B. Caregivers will also often present an ob ject to the infant and then model and reinforce an appropriate "tact" (Skinner, 1957). This interaction might be described as, see object B [right arrow] hear and say name A (see Barnes, 1994, for a detailed discussion). During the initial stages of language learning, each interaction may require explicit reinforcement for it to become wholly established in the behavioral repertoire of the child, but after a number of name-to-object and object-to-name exemplars have been taught, the generalized, higher-order, operant response class of derived naming will be established. In effect, the multiple-exemplar bidirectional training establishes particular contextual cues as discriminative for the derived response of naming.

Relational Frame Theory argues that any events may enter into arbitrarily applicable relational responding in the presence of the appropriate contextual cues, and in addition, explains stimulus equivalence as one example of such relational responding. For instance, when the generalized operant of derived naming is established as part of a young child's behavioral repertoire, and he or she is then exposed to a matching-to-sample preparation, contextual cues made available by this preparation may be discriminative for equivalence responding. Indeed, the matching-to-sample format itself may function as a particularly powerful contextual cue in this regard, because it is often used in preschool education exercises to teach word-to-picture equivalences (see Barnes, 1994, and Barnes & Roche, 1996, for detailed discussions). Relational Frame Theory thus defines equivalence formation as a generalized or overarching response class insofar as it is generated by a history of reinforcement across multiple exemplars, and once established any stimulus event, irrespective of form, may become part of an equivalence relation. …

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