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

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Notes

  1. 1.

    According to RFT, it is the exemplar training that is critical in establishing derived relational responding, not naming per se (see Luciano, Becerra, & Valverde, 2007); naming is seen as just one way in which multiple-exemplar training may occur in the natural verbal environment.

  2. 2.

    The term deictic is used here to refer to verbal relations that specify an individual as located in a particular space (e.g., “here” rather than “there”) and at a particular time (e.g., “now” rather than “then”).

  3. 3.

    Relational complexity itself may be defined along more than one dimension, such as the number of relata, frames, and/or contextual cues in a network. In some cases, therefore, identifying a single continuum of relational complexity may require appropriate multidimensional scaling (e.g., Borg & Groenen, 2005).

References

  1. Barnes, D., Hegarty, N., & Smeets, P. M. (1997). Relating equivalence relations to equivalence relations: a relational framing model of complex human functioning. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 14, 57–83.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  2. Barnes, D., Smeets, P. M., & Leader, G. (1996). New procedures for establishing emergent matching performances in children and adults: implications for stimulus equivalence. Advances in Psychology, 117, 153–171.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Barnes-Holmes, D., & Barnes-Holmes, Y. (2000). Explaining complex behavior: two perspectives on the concept of generalized operant classes. The Psychological Record, 50, 251–265.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Barnes-Holmes, D., Barnes-Holmes, Y., & Cullinan, V. (2000). Relational frame theory and Skinner’s verbal behavior: a possible synthesis. The Behavior Analyst, 23, 69–84.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  5. Barnes-Holmes, D., Barnes-Holmes, Y., Hussey, I., & Luciano, C. (2016). Relational frame theory: finding its historical and intellectual roots and reflecting upon its future development. In R. D. Zettle, S. C. Hayes, D. Barnes-Holmes, & A. Biglan (Eds.), The Wiley handbook of contextual behavioral science (pp. 115–128). West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Barnes-Holmes, D., Barnes-Holmes, Y., Stewart, I., & Boles, S. (2010). A sketch of the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) and the Relational Elaboration and Coherence (REC) model. The Psychological Record, 60, 527–542.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Barnes-Holmes, D., Hayden, E., Barnes-Holmes, Y., & Stewart, I. (2008). The Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) as a response-time and event-related-potentials methodology for testing natural verbal relations: a preliminary study. The Psychological Record, 58, 497–516.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Barnes-Holmes, D., Murphy, A., Barnes-Holmes, Y., & Stewart, I. (2010). The Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure: exploring the impact of private versus public contexts and the response latency criterion on pro-white and anti-black stereotyping among white Irish individuals. The Psychological Record, 60, 57–80.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Barnes-Holmes, D., O’Hora, D., Roche, B., Hayes, S. C., Bissett, R. T., & Lyddy, F. (2001). Understanding and verbal regulation. In S. C. Hayes, D. Barnes-Holmes, & B. Roche (Eds.), Relational frame theory: a post-Skinnerian account of human language and cognition (pp. 103–117). New York: Plenum.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Barnes-Holmes, Y. (2001). Analysing relational frames: studying language and cognition in young children (unpublished doctoral thesis). Maynooth: National University of Ireland.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Barnes-Holmes, Y., Barnes-Holmes, D., Smeets, P. M., Strand, P., & Friman, P. (2004). Establishing relational responding in accordance with more-than and less-than as generalized operant behavior in young children. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 4, 531–558.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Bentall, R. P., Lowe, C. F., & Beasty, A. (1985). The role of verbal behavior in human learning: II. Developmental differences. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 43, 165–180.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  13. Borg, I., & Groenen, P. J. F. (2005). Modern multidimensional scaling: theory and applications (2nd ed.). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Catania, A. C., Shimoff, E., & Matthews, B. A. (1989). An experimental analysis of rule-governed behavior. In S. C. Hayes (Ed.), Rule-governed behavior: cognition, contingencies, and instructional control (pp. 119–150). New York: Plenum.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Chomsky, N. (1959). A review of B. F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior. Language, 35, 26–58.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. De Houwer, J. (2017). A functional-cognitive framework for cooperation between functional and cognitive researchers in the context of stimulus relations research. The Behavior Analyst. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s40614-017-0089-6.

  17. Dougher, M. J., Hamilton, D. A., Fink, B. C., & Harrington, J. (2007). Transformation of the discriminative and eliciting functions of generalized relational stimuli. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 88, 179–197.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  18. Dymond, S., & Barnes, D. (1995). A transformation of self-discrimination response functions in accordance with the arbitrarily applicable relations of sameness, more than, and less than. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 64, 163–184.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  19. Dymond, S., Roche, B., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2003). The continuity strategy, human behavior, and behavior analysis. The Psychological Record, 53, 333–347.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Finn, M., Barnes-Holmes, D., Hussey, I., & Graddy, J. (2016). Exploring the behavioral dynamics of the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure: the impact of three types of introductory rules. The Psychological Record, 66, 309–321.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Finn, M., Barnes-Holmes, D., & McEnteggart, C. (2017). Exploring the single-trial-type-dominance-effect on the IRAP: developing a Differential Arbitrarily Applicable Relational Responding Effects (DAARRE) model. Manuscript submitted for publication.

  22. Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. L. (1998). Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: the Implicit Association Test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1464–1480.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Hayes, S. C. (1984). Making sense of spirituality. Behavior, 12, 99–110.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Hayes, S. C. (1989). Rule-governed behavior: cognition, contingencies, and instructional control. New York: Plenum.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  25. Hayes, S. C. (1991). A relational control theory of stimulus equivalence. Reno: Context Press.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Hayes, S. C., Barnes-Holmes, D., & Roche, B. (2001). Relational frame theory: a post-Skinnerian account of human language and cognition. New York: Plenum.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Hayes, S. C., Gifford, E. V., Townsend, R. C., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2001). Thinking, problem-solving, and pragmatic verbal analysis. In S. C. Hayes, D. Barnes-Holmes, & B. Roche (Eds.), Relational frame theory: a post-Skinnerian account of human language and cognition (pp. 87–101). New York: Plenum.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Healy, O., Barnes-Holmes, D., & Smeets, P. M. (2000). Derived relational responding as generalized operant behavior. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 74, 207–227.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  29. Hughes, S., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2016a). Relational frame theory: the basic account. In R. D. Zettle, S. C. Hayes, D. Barnes-Holmes, & A. Biglan (Eds.), The Wiley handbook of contextual behavioral science (pp. 129–178). West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Hughes, S., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2016b). Relational frame theory: implications for the study of human language and cognition. In R. D. Zettle, S. C. Hayes, D. Barnes-Holmes, & A. Biglan (Eds.), The Wiley handbook of contextual behavioral science (pp. 179–226). West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Hughes, S., Barnes-Holmes, D., & Vahey, N. (2012). Holding on to our functional roots when exploring new intellectual islands: a voyage through implicit cognition research. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 1, 17–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Keuleers, E., Diependaele, K., & Brysbaert, M. (2010). Practice effects in large-scale visual word recognition studies: a lexical decision study on 14,000 Dutch mono- and disyllabic words and nonwords. Frontiers in Psychology, 1, 174.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  33. Lipkens, R., Hayes, S. C., & Hayes, L. J. (1993). Longitudinal study of the development of derived relations in an infant. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 56, 201–239.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Lowe, C. F. (1979). Determinants of human operant behavior. Advances in Analysis of Behaviour, 1, 159–192.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Lowe, C. F., Beasty, A., & Bentall, R. P. (1983). The role of verbal behavior in human learning: infant performance on fixed-interval schedules. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 39, 157–164.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  36. Luciano, C., Becerra, I. G., & Valverde, M. R. (2007). The role of multiple-exemplar training and naming in establishing derived equivalence in an infant. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 87, 349–365.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  37. Maloney, E., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2016). Exploring the behavioral dynamics of the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure: the role of relational contextual cues versus relational coherence indicators as response options. The Psychological Record, 66, 395–403.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. McHugh, L., Barnes-Holmes, Y., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2004). Perspective-taking as relational responding: a developmental profile. The Psychological Record, 54, 115–144.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. McKeel, A. N., Rowsey, K. E., Belisle, J., Dixon, M. R., & Szekely, S. (2015). Teaching complex verbal operants with the PEAK relational training system. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 8, 241–244. doi:10.1007/s40617-015-0067-y.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  40. Moore, J. (2009). Some thoughts on the relation between derived relational responding and verbal behavior. European Journal of Behavior Analysis, 10, 31–47.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. O’Hora, D., Barnes-Holmes, D., Roche, B., & Smeets, P. (2004). Derived relational networks and control by novel instructions: a possible model of generative verbal responding. The Psychological Record, 54, 437–460.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Pilgrim, C., & Galizio, M. (1995). Reversal of baseline relations and stimulus equivalence: I. Adults. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 63, 225–238.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  43. Roche, B., & Barnes, D. (1997). A transformation of respondently conditioned stimulus function in accordance with arbitrarily applicable relations. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 67, 275–301.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  44. Sidman, M. (1971). Reading and auditory-visual equivalences. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 14, 5–13.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Sidman, M. (1994). Stimulus equivalence: a research story. Boston: Authors Cooperative.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Sidman, M., & Tailby, W. (1982). Conditional discrimination vs. matching to sample: an expansion of the testing paradigm. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 37, 5–22.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  47. Skinner, B. F. (1957). Verbal behavior. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  48. Skinner, B. F. (1966). An operant analysis of problem-solving. In B. Kleinmuntz (Ed.), Problem solving: research, method, teaching (pp. 225–257). New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Stewart, I., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2004). Relational frame theory and analogical reasoning: empirical investigations. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 4, 241–262.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Stewart, I., Barnes-Holmes, D., Hayes, S. C., & Lipkens, R. (2001). In S. C. Hayes, D. Barnes-Holmes, & B. Roche (Eds.), Relational frame theory: a post-Skinnerian account of human language and cognition (pp. 73–86). New York: Plenum.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Vahey, N. A., Nicholson, E., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2015). A meta-analysis of criterion effects for the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) in the clinical domain. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 48, 59–65.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  52. Vaughan, M. (1989). Rule-governed behavior in behavior analysis. In S. C. Hayes (Ed.), Rule-governed behavior: cognition, contingencies, and instructional control (pp. 97–118). New York: Plenum.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Weiner, H. (1969). Conditioning history and the control of human avoidance and escape responding. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 12, 1039–1043.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dermot Barnes-Holmes.

Additional information

This article was prepared with the support of an Odysseus Group 1 grant awarded to the first author by the Flanders Science Foundation (FWO).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Barnes-Holmes, D., Finn, M., McEnteggart, C. et al. Derived Stimulus Relations and Their Role in a Behavior-Analytic Account of Human Language and Cognition. Perspect Behav Sci 41, 155–173 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40614-017-0124-7

Download citation

Keywords

  • Derived stimulus relations
  • Relational frame theory
  • Human
  • Language
  • Cognition