Assessing Derived Conditional Relations Under Reinforcement Conditions
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The present study assessed derived conditional relations using a within-subject sequence of training and testing with reinforcement. In Experiment 1, four undergraduates were trained on two independent arbitrary-matching tasks (A–B and C–D). Next, they were given reinforced symmetry trials for half of the baseline stimuli (B–A and D–C). To show that accuracy on symmetry trials was not a result of rapid learning due to reinforcement; novel relations were reinforced among the remaining baseline stimuli (B–C and D–A), as an experimental control. All participants acquired symmetrical relations faster than the novel, control relations. Experiment 2 assessed transitivity using a similar testing strategy. All but one participant acquired transitive relations faster than the novel, control relations. These results conform to those arising from traditional unreinforced tests and suggest the potential of the proposed strategy to study populations in which the emergence of conditional relations seems to be negatively affected by the suspension of reinforcement during tests.
KeywordsConditional discrimination Symmetry Transitivity Arbitrary matching-to-sample task Button press Humans
This research was supported by Doctoral Grant (CNPq 142544/2005-1) to the first author, and Researcher Grant (CNPq 302640/2007-0) and Research Support (CNPq, Edital Universal, 471953/2004-0) to the second author. Both authors are members of the National Institute of Science and Technology on Behavior, Cognition and Teaching, supported by FAPESP (Grant #08/57705-8) and CNPq (Grant #573972/2008-7). There is no conflict of interest to declare concerning both authors. The authors express their acknowledgments to Alex Wahl, Paula Braga-Kenyon, and Shawn Kenyon for their comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. Correspondence must be sent to either Saulo M. Velasco, e-mail: email@example.com or Gerson Y. Tomanari, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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