Exploring the impact of coherence (through the presence versus absence of feedback) and levels of derivation on persistent rule-following

Colin Harte, Dermot Barnes-holmes, Yvonne Barnes-holmes, Ciara McEnteggart

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8 Citations (Scopus)
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Recent developments in relational frame theory (RFT) have outlined a number of key variables of potential importance when analyzing the dynamics involved in derived relational responding. Recent research has begun to explore the impact of a number of these variables on persistent rule-following, namely, levels of derivation and coherence. However, no research to date has systematically examined the impact of coherence on persistent rule-following at varying levels of derivation. Across two experiments, the impact of coherence (manipulated through the systematic use of performance feedback) was explored on persistent rule-following when derivation was relatively low (Exp. 1) and high (Exp. 2). A training protocol based on the implicit relational assessment procedure (IRAP) was used to establish novel combinatorially entailed relations that manipulated the feedback provided on the untrained, derived relations (A-C) for five blocks of trials in Experiment 1 and one block of trials in Experiment 2. One of these relations was then inserted into the rule for responding on a subsequent contingency-switching match-to-sample task to assess rule persistence. While no significant differences were found in Experiment 1, the provision or non-provision of feedback had a significant differential impact on rule persistence in Experiment 2. These differences, and the subtle complexities that appear to be involved in persistent rule-following in the face of reversed reinforcement contingencies, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalLearning & Behavior
Issue number0
Early online date15 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished online - 15 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article was prepared with the support of an Odysseus Group 1 grant awarded to the second author by the Flanders Science Foundation (FWO), Belgium.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Psychonomic Society, Inc.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Data Access Statement

None of the experiments were preregistered and enquiries about the materials or data may be made by direct correspondence with the first author.


  • Coherence
  • Derivation
  • HDML
  • Persistent rule-following
  • RFT


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