Original Article

The Psychological Record

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 311-319

First online:

The Effect of Before and After Instructions on the Speed of Sequential Responding

  • John M. HylandAffiliated withDublin Business School Email author 
  • , Sinead SmythAffiliated withDublin City University
  • , Denis P. O’HoraAffiliated withNational University of Ireland
  • , Julian C. LeslieAffiliated withUniversity of Ulster

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Order judgements are slower and less accurate when reversed. That is, when participants see two events in a sequence (e.g., circle …square), they are quicker to report ‘Before’ statements (e.g., “Circle before Square”) than ‘After’ statements (“Square after Circle”). The current study sought to determine whether a reversal effect will also occur when participants are instructed to produce a sequence of responses. Twenty participants were trained to criterion on simple ‘Before’ and ‘After’ instructions that specified sequences of two responses (e.g., “Circle before Square”). In a subsequent test, participants produced instructed sequences (e.g., circle … square) more quickly and more reliably when instructed to choose one stimulus before another than when they were requested to choose one stimulus after another. The implications of these findings for current theories of relational responding are considered.


Before After Sequential responding Temporal instructions Relational responding Mutual entailment