Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #192
Advancements in the Development of Novel Complex Behavior Through the Use of Equivalence Relations
Sunday, May 25, 2014
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
W176b (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Rebecca A. Markovits (Seven Hills Foundation)

Stimulus equivalence has been used to teach individuals to develop not only the trained relations, but novel relations (Sidman, 1971). The use of such technology becomes important as a means of effectively teaching multiple relations simultaneously without having to teach each individual relation, essentially speeding up the learning process. The following studies looked at the use of stimulus equivalence to develop novel forms of complex behavior, such as manding, tacting, intraverbals, and rule governed behavior. Participants in these studies were typical adults who were taught a variety of discriminations and relations using novel stimuli. Across the three studies, participants were asked to respond to the same stimuli in multiple ways. The first study looked at the emergence tacts, mands, and intraverbals through stimulus equivalence training. The second study used stimulus equivalence to expand functional and equivalence classes. The third study evaluated the development of novel rules and repertoires during the development of stimulus relations. Overall, the data show that stimulus equivalence can effectively be used to develop novel relations and the corresponding repertoires that are necessary to respond accurately when presented with those stimuli. These findings can be helpful in developing new procedures and methods for teaching more complex discriminations and relations.

Keyword(s): equivalence relations, rule-governed behavior, stimulus equivalence, verbal behavior

A Stimulus Equivalence Analysis of Emergent Tact, Mands and Intraverbals

CHRISTINA M. BOYD-PICKARD (RCS Learning Center), Jacqueline Adams (RCS Learning Center ), Russell W. Maguire (Simmons College)

The purpose of this study was to assess a behavioral analogue for the emergence of untrained tacts, mands and intraverbals via the formation of classes of equivalent stimuli. Two typically developing adults were taught to name nonsense forms (B1 and C1, B2 and C2 and B3 and C3 forms received the same nonsense name). Following this training participants were able to match B comparison stimuli to C samples and vice versa, and the B and C comparison stimuli to auditory samples (A: spoken nonsense sounds) without any further training. This finding documented the emergence of three, three member equivalence classes. Participants were then taught to match B comparison stimuli to D samples. Testing revealed that all possible stimulus-stimulus relations emerged, including D naming (emergent tacting) and A-D matching (emergent intraverbal control). Finally, participants were taught to sequence stimuli (first, second third). Once they acquired these sequences one stimulus was removed and to complete the sequence participants had to request (e.g., mand) for the missing stimulus. All participants manded for the correct stimulus without any further training. The results are discussed in terms of a stimulus equivalence analysis for the emergence of untrained tacts, mands and intraverbals.


The Formation and Expansion of Functional and Equivalence Classes

RUSSELL W. MAGUIRE (Simmons College)

In Experiment 1 (Persson and Maguire, 2011) were taught conditional discriminations; matching two, 4-element complex samples to a specific and invariant color comparison (e.g., red versus green). Following training testing was conducted to assess all possible stimulus-stimulus relations to evaluate the formation of two-5-member functional classes (the four individual sample elements and the related color comparison). Participants demonstrated that the elements of the complex sample and comparison stimuli had become members of the same functional stimulus classes. Experiment 2 then taught participants to name two novel elements, followed by conditional discrimination training (matching a novel element comparison to an element sample from each of the complex stimuli). Subsequent testing documented the emergence of equivalence relations (untrained complex element-to-novel element and vice versa), the naming of all complex elements with the trained name of the novel element and the emergence of untrained auditory-to-visual matching-to-sample relations (e.g., matching complex elements to the spoken novel element name). Theses results are discussed in term of a stimulus equivalence analysis for he expansion of classes of functional and equivalent stimuli.


Evaluating the Development of Novel Rule-Governed Behavior during Complex Discrimination Training

REBECCA A. MARKOVITS (Seven Hills Foundation), Ronald F. Allen (Simmons College), Judah B. Axe (Simmons College), David C. Palmer (Smith College)

In the current study, typical adults were taught novel complex conditional discriminations using symbolic stimuli. Sample stimuli were either auditory or visual and comparison stimuli were visual. All visual stimuli consisted of nine elements. Participants were tested on their ability to identify parts of the complex sample stimuli before and after discrimination training. Eye tracking equipment was used to measure the participants observing during testing. After all testing was completed, participants were given a self-report to collect data on how they were tacting their own observing behavior. Participants stated the development of naming and rule-governed behavior as well as methods of observing stimuli that were effective or not effective in helping them respond to the stimuli. The participants statements regarding their own behaviors and the development of rules were supported by the data on collected by the eye tracking equipment. This study provides valuable insight into the development of rule-governed behavior as well as individuals ability to tact their own covert behavior.




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