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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #451
CE Offered: BACB
Understanding Complex Relational Stimulus Control Does Not Require a Relational Frame Theory
Monday, May 27, 2019
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Hyatt Regency East, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom CD South
Area: VRB/EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Paul Thomas Thomas Andronis (Northern Michigan University)
Discussant: Darlene E. Crone-Todd (Salem State University)
CE Instructor: T. V. Joe Layng, Ph.D.

Is a Relational Frame Theory (RFT) really required to account for responding to complex relations between stimuli? This symposium will provide alternative accounts not requiring a hypothetical relational operant for relational responding found in both the experimental laboratory and more applied or everyday settings. The emergence of relational responding has been explained by RFT as a product of a history of multiple exemplar training. However, the formation of relational responding might be better characterized by the process of adduction. We will look at an experimental study that explores this idea. This symposium will also review procedures in applied settings that produce responding to relational stimuli that have their origin in research beginning over 60 years ago, and that have routinely been applied to establishing complex “relational responding” for decades. These procedures demonstrate that central to establishing control by relational stimuli is the non-example, and that it is discrepancy as well as sameness that is critical to establishing such control. The contribution of hierarchal and coordinate abstract tacts to understanding the acquisition of complex relational responding in both controlled and everyday settings will be described.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Adduction, abstract-tact
Target Audience:

Basic and applied behavior analysts


Equivalence Relations: Emergence or Adduction?

(Basic Research)
JESUS ROSALES-RUIZ (University of North Texas)

When people are taught the conditional discriminations A-B and B-C, untrained conditional discriminations often emerge (e.g, B-A, C-B, A-C, C-A). A, B, and C become interchangeable events in the contingency and are said to be members of an equivalence class. Current explanations of the emergence of stimulus equivalence point to the immediate history of conditional-discrimination training (Sidman, 2000), perhaps to organismic variables (Sidman, 1992, 1994), and to a history of differential reinforcement across multiple exemplars (Hayes, 1991; Hughes & Barnes-Holmes, 2016). In addition to training history, the explanations also include some kind of selection mechanism that occurs during testing. That mechanism could be seen as a context controlling the appropriate relational response (Hayes, 1991) or as a process that screens out alternative stimulus control (Sidman, 1992). These views suggest that equivalence will emerge as a result of the right training history and favorable testing conditions. An alternative to this view is that equivalence classes may be the result of the fusion of two (or more) repertoires (Hineline, 1997), as exemplified by the process of adduction (Andronis, 1983). This presentation will explore this alternative and present an experiment relevant to this question.


Responding to Complex Relations Among and Between Stimuli: The Intradiemesional and Interdimensional Abstract Tact

T. V. JOE LAYNG (Generategy, LLC)

Treatments of the tact often do not extend beyond the simple tact. Skinner (1957), however, described the abstract tact where the speaker’s behavior is guided by a subset of stimulus properties. The abstract tact “chair” is guided not by a specific piece of furniture, but by features of that stimulus. Layng (in press) has described such guidance as an “intradimensional” tact. Abstract tacts also include behavior under control of relations between stimuli, such as distant, larger, opposite, same, different, me, you, to believe, etc. Layng (2014; 2016; in press) describes these relations as “interdimentional” tacts. This presentation will describe how these relations may be analyzed and sequences designed for their effective teaching, often without using match-to-sample procedures. It will be argued that these procedures may more closely resemble how these relations are acquired outside the laboratory than do the match-to-sample preparations often found in the laboratory. Further, it will be shown how such interdimensional tacts form the basis of “autoclitic frames,” whereby interdimensional relations can guide both speaker and listener behavior in completely novel situations, such as, “Y believes X will…” No hypothetical arbitrarily applicable relational operant is required to understand or teach these relations.




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