Development of conditional and equivalence relations without differential consequences.
AbstractTwo experiments were conducted to establish conditional stimulus relations without differential consequences and to test for the emergence of other relations. In Experiment 1, 3 adults responded to match-to-sample displays in which sample-comparison pairs were constant while the second comparison presented with each pair changed periodically across trials. No differential consequences followed any comparison selections. All subjects learned conditional relations between constant samples and comparisons, but results of tests for transitivity in those relations were equivocal. In Experiment 2, 4 children were given unreinforced training and testing similar to that provided to the adults in Experiment 1, with procedural refinements. One child learned conditional relations and demonstrated emergent relations that confirmed the development of two four-member equivalence classes. Another child learned the conditional relations but did not demonstrate any emergent relations reliably. A 3rd child, after reinforced training on two conditional relations, learned four new conditional relations without differential consequences and demonstrated symmetry but not equivalence in the trained relations. The 4th child did not learn the conditional relations. These findings emphasize the importance of careful construction of tests for stimulus equivalence and suggest a need for critical analyses of the apparent emergence of untrained stimulus relations on unreinforced tests that has been observed in several stimulus equivalence studies.