The Psychological Record

, Volume 65, Issue 2, pp 277–287 | Cite as

Transfer of Three Functions of Contextual Stimuli in Conditional Discriminations

  • Luis Antonio Pérez-GonzálezEmail author
  • Eva Álvarez
  • Alba Calleja
  • Asunción Fernández
  • University of Oviedo
Original Article


Transfer of three functions of contextual stimuli to novel conditional discriminations was explored in two experiments conducted with four adults each. In Experiment 1, we taught to select comparison B1 in the presence of sample A1 and comparison B2 in the presence of sample A2 (the AB conditional discrimination). Then, we presented X1 or X2 as a contextual stimulus; in the presence of X1, the same selections as in AB were reinforced; in the presence of X2, selections of the alternative comparison were reinforced (i.e., selections of B2 in the presence of A1 and selections of B1 in the presence of A2). Then, a new conditional discrimination CD was taught. Finally, the CD conditional discrimination was probed, without reinforcement, with stimuli X1 and X2 as contextual stimuli. The participants demonstrated transfer of functions of stimuli X1 and X2 to the CD conditional discrimination. This study systematically replicated previous studies and served as a baseline for analyzing the results of Experiment 2. In Experiment 2, the procedure was the same as in Experiment 1, but the function of X2 was different from Experiment 1: It indicated that a specific comparison was correct regardless of the sample (i.e., in the presence of X2, selections of B2 were reinforced in both the presence of A1 and the presence of A2). In the probe with novel stimuli C and D, the four participants selected one single comparison in the presence of X2: Three participants selected D1, and the other participant selected D2. The process was replicated in a symmetry probe. These results indicated that the new contextual function transferred to novel conditional discriminations.


Contextual control Stimulus relations Stimulus equivalence Relational frames Verbal behavior 



This research was supported by grants SEJ2006-08055 from the Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología and PSI2009-08644 from the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Spain. We are grateful to Covadonga Bello for her help with the implementation of the procedures and to Helena Han for editing the manuscript. This study was conducted by the three students as part of the requirements for the Título de Licenciatura under the supervision of the first author.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis Antonio Pérez-González
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eva Álvarez
    • 2
  • Alba Calleja
    • 2
  • Asunción Fernández
    • 2
  • University of Oviedo
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of OviedoOviedoSpain
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of OviedoOviedoSpain

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