The Behavior Analyst

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 121–128 | Cite as

The Response-Stimulus Contingency and Reinforcement Learning as a Context for Considering Two Non-Behavior-Analytic Views of Contingency Learning

  • Jacob L. Gewirtz


This paper introduces a special section on the contingency. Bower and Watson were invited to present their views of contingency learning in human infants from outside the context of behavior analysis, and Cigales, Marr, and Lattal and Shahan provided commentaries that point out some of the more interesting and controversial aspects of those views from a behavior-analytic perspective. The debate turns on how to conceptualize the response-stimulus contingency of operant learning. The present paper introduces the contingency concept and contingency detection by subjects, as well as research practices in behavior analysis, in a context in which the dependency between infant responding and the presentation of environmental consequences may be disrupted through procedures in which ordinarily consequent events occur before the response or in its absence. These points can relate to and serve as an introduction to the Bower and Watson papers on infant contingency learning as well as to the three commentaries that follow.

Key words

contingency infant operant learning reinforcement 


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacob L. Gewirtz
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA

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