We evaluated whether contextual control over equivalence and nonequivalence (i.e., selecting comparisons equivalent to the samples in the presence of a contextual cue, and excluding the selection of comparisons equivalent to the samples in the presence of another contextual cue) can account for apparent arbitrarily applicable relational responding (AARR) in accordance with the frames of sameness and opposition, as defined in relational frame theory (RFT). Three college students were trained to maintain previously established conditional discriminations in the presence of a contextual cue X1, and to reverse them in the presence of another contextual cue X2 (e.g., X1–A1B1, X1–A2B2, X2–A1B2, X2–A2B1). Subsequent tests demonstrated that X1 and X2 functioned as cues for equivalence and nonequivalence. Later on, X1 and X2 were demonstrated to be functionally equivalent to supposed contextual cues for the frames of sameness and opposition employed in RFT studies (i.e., SAME and OPPOSITE cues), in tests for arbitrary and nonarbitrary derived stimulus relations. The functional equivalence of X2 and OPPOSITE suggests that OPPOSITE worked as a cue for nonequivalence. Thus, the results in RFT studies with SAME and OPPOSITE can be explained just by contextual control over equivalence and nonequivalence. Therefore, the explanation that they actually demonstrated AARR in accordance with the frames of sameness and opposition can be questioned and replaced by a more parsimonious explanation, based on a few simple learning principles. We discuss the implications of this conclusion for the debate among competing theories about the origin of stimulus equivalence and other derived stimulus–stimulus relations.
Learning & Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 8, 2017
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