Effects of coherence on speaker preference and rule-following

Paulo H. Bianchi, William F. Perez, Colin Harte, Dermot Barnes-holmes

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Rule-following is affected by multiple variables. A relevant aspect of rules regards whether they “make sense”, that is, the extent to which the instruction coheres with previously reinforced patterns of relational responding. The present study aimed to evaluate the influence of relational coherence upon rule-following. After mastering a particular set of conditional relations (e.g., A1B1, A2B2), the participants were exposed to two speakers, one of which would “state” relations that cohered (e.g., A1B1, A2B2) with the participant’s previous relational training and the other that would present relations that were incoherent (e.g., A1B2, A2B1). Then, rule-following was measured in a preference test in which the participant would have to choose which of the two speakers would provide instructions in each test trial. Results show that the participants preferred the coherent speaker to provide instructions and followed the rules presented by that speaker throughout the test. Coherence is discussed as a critical aspect of rule following and preference for particular narratives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-227
Number of pages14
JournalPerspectivas em Análise do Comportamento
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 5 May 2021


  • Relational frame theory
  • rule-governed behavior
  • instructional control
  • speaker preference
  • coherence


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