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Perspectives on Behavior Science

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 155–173 | Cite as

Derived Stimulus Relations and Their Role in a Behavior-Analytic Account of Human Language and Cognition

  • Dermot Barnes-Holmes
  • Martin Finn
  • Ciara McEnteggart
  • Yvonne Barnes-Holmes
Original Research

Abstract

This article describes how the study of derived stimulus relations has provided the basis for a behavior–analytic approach to the study of human language and cognition in purely functional–analytic terms, with a focus on basic rather than applied research. The article begins with a brief history of the early behavior–analytic approach to human language and cognition, focusing on Skinner’s (1957) text Verbal Behavior, his subsequent introduction of the concept of instructional control (Skinner, 1966), and Sidman’s (1994) seminal research on stimulus equivalence relations. The article then considers how the concept of derived stimulus relations, as conceptualized within relational frame theory (Hayes et al., 2001), allowed researchers to refine and extend the functional approach to language and cognition in multiple ways. Finally, the article considers some recent conceptual and empirical developments that highlight how the concept of derived stimulus relations continues to play a key role in the behavior–analytic study of human language and cognition, particularly implicit cognition. In general, the article aims to provide a particular perspective on how the study of derived stimulus relations has facilitated and enhanced the behavior analysis of human language and cognition, particularly over the past 25–30 years.

Keywords

Derived stimulus relations Relational frame theory Human Language Cognition 

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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Experimental, Clinical, and Health PsychologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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