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Ninth International Conference; Paris, France; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #12
New Approaches in the Analysis of Emergent Relational Stimulus Control
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
2:00 PM–3:50 PM
Loft B, Niveau 3
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Carol Pilgrim (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
Discussant: Carol Pilgrim (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
Abstract: The four talks to be presented in this symposium cover new approaches and directions in the analysis of emergent relational stimulus control. Richard Serna will describe an investigation of the stimulus control engendered by exclusion procedures in young typically developing children. The impact of this stimulus control on observing behavior will be analyzed with eye-tracking data. Deisy De Souza will report analyses of equivalence-probe performances assessed after each step of training conditional discriminations with abstract stimuli in young children. The emergent patterns thus revealed provide important insight in the identification and understanding of sources of behavioral variability in equivalence studies. Carol Pilgrim will describe experiments testing some implications of Sidmans (2000) revised definition of equivalence. The results suggest support for the new definition, and highlight the considerable generativity that may be made possible by considering a broader range of approaches to equivalence. Julio de Rose will report on the impact of replacing arbitrary stimuli in linear conditional discrimination training with either an emotional facial expression, or an arbitrary stimulus made equivalent to a facial expression with college students. These results have special relevance not only for understanding equivalence-class formation, but also for the study of social stimulus control.
Instruction Level: Advanced
CANCELED: Limitations to Emergent Conditional Discrimination Through Exclusion Learning
RICHARD W. SERNA (University of Massachusetts Lowell), Michelle M. Foran (University of Massachusetts Lowell)
Abstract: This study examined factors that may limit the extent to which exposure to exclusion trials predicts accurate outcome performance. Specifically, we examined the effects of difficult-to-discriminate visual stimuli on both auditory visual exclusion performance and subsequent outcome performance in a matching-to-sample task. Participants were eight typically developing preschool children, ages 4-5 years old, all of whom entered the experiment capable of matching the spoken words "dog" and "cat" to line drawings of a dog and cat. This served as the exclusion baseline. The to-be-taught conditional discrimination (via the exclusion method) consisted of nonrepresentational forms that were very similar to one another, save for a single distinguishing feature, and the spoken nonsense words "veem" and "zid." In an identity matching-to-sample pretest, four participants could match the nonrepresentational forms to one another and four could not. Three of the four that could not were trained successfully to do so with a stimulus-control shaping program designed to direct observing to the distinguishing stimuli. The participant acquired the discrimination without training. In subsequent exclusion-exposure tests, all participants showed highly accurate exclusion performance. However, in a test of conditional-discrimination outcome performance, the participants trained to discriminate the nonrepresentational forms failed to meet criterion, while the four participants who entered the study able to discriminate the forms met criterion. The results will be discussed in terms of the stimulus control engendered by exclusion trials and its interaction with observing behavior. Follow-up studies that include eye-tracking data are ongoing.
Monitoring the Acquisition and Emergence of Arbitrary Visual-Visual Relations in Children
DEISY DAS GRAÇAS DE SOUZA (Universidade Federal de São Carlos), Vanessa Ayres Pereira (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences), Daniela De Souza Canovas (Universidade de Sao Paulo), André A B Varella (Universidade Catolica Dom Bosco)
Abstract: Studies on stimulus equivalence usually dispense with pretest measures, assuming that using abstract stimuli ensure that participants could not have previous experience with the relations to be experimentally established. Also, when studies assess equivalence class formation after training all baseline relations, the possible effects of specific trainings remain unknown. This study assessed relational responding before any training, and after each step of training baseline relations. Six typically developing children were taught conditional discriminations with abstract stimuli, presented on the computer screen. AB-AC baseline relations (three participants), and AB-BC (other three participants) were taught under a multiple probe design. As expected, participants did not show any consistent responding on pretests. After AB training, four participants maintained baseline responding and showed immediate emergence of symmetric BA relations; two participants required retraining. After BC or AC training, AB and BA relations were disturbed for four children, while all six acquired the new relations and showed symmetry (CB or CA). One participant formed classes before the mixed training; after mixed training, all other participants reached criterion on baseline and symmetric relations, and showed immediate or delayed class formation. The step-by-step monitoring seems relevant in the identification and understanding of sources of behavioral variability.
Testing Implications of Sidman's (2000) Revised Definition of Equivalence
CAROL PILGRIM (University of North Carolina Wilmington), Brittany Williams (UNC Wilmington), Ashleigh Leuck (UNC Wilmington)
Abstract: Sidman (2000) proposed a revised definition of equivalence that has yet to receive the attention it deserves. The present study tested implications of this revised definition by training three-term contingencies with compound discriminative stimuli and compound class-specific consequences. For four typically developing children, selecting A1B1 or C1D1 produced R1r1; selecting A2B2 or C2D2 produced R2r2; and selecting A3B3 or C3D3 produced R3r3. For two participants, conditional discrimination probe tests revealed emergent relations indicative of three 6-member classes (e.g., A1B1C1D1R1r1). Those two participants then learned D-E and D-F conditional discriminations with the same class-specific consequences. Conditional discrimination probe trials (including standard equivalence probes allowed by the additional training) revealed 8-member classes, and simple discrimination probe trials revealed that the new stimuli in each class (E and F) served an emergent discriminative function when presented as part of a novel compound with any other class member. These data demonstrate that simple discrimination training can generate equivalence relations that class-specific consequences can become class members, and that compound elements can become independent class members, as predicted by Sidman’s revised equivalence definition. They also show that the generativity made possible by equivalence approaches may be considerably greater than the probe relations typically tested.
Class Enhancement Effects of Arbitrary Stimuli Equivalent to Facial Emotional Expressions.
JULIO C. DE ROSE (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos), João Henrique de Almeida (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos), Táhcita Medrado Mizael (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos), Erik Arntzen (Oslo and Akershus University College), Lanny Fields (Queens College, City University of New York)
Abstract: College students seldom form equivalence classes when they learn conditional discriminations AB, BC, CD, and DE, with abstract stimuli. Inclusion of a meaningful stimulus as a class member enhances class formation. Additionally, abstract stimuli equivalent to facial emotional expressions acquire their meanings. The present study determined whether these latter stimuli also enhance class formation. Three groups of eight college students learned AB, BC, CD, and DE conditional discriminations and were tested for the emergence of ABCDE classes. Previously, the C stimuli became members of three other classes containing C, Y, X, and Z stimuli. For Group 1, all class members were abstract stimuli. For classes 1, 2, and 3, in Group 2, the Z stimuli were facial expressions of happiness, neutrality, and anger, respectively; therefore, the C stimuli should acquire the emotive valences of these faces. For Group 3, the facial expressions themselves were the C stimuli in the ABCDE and CXYZ classes. Equivalence classes were formed by 0%, by 38%, and by 75% of participants in Groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Thus, class formation was enhanced most by the inclusion of meaningful stimuli, and less so by the inclusion of abstract stimuli equivalent to facial expressions.


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