Relating relational networks: An initial experimental analysis

Cainã T. Gomes, William F. Perez, Dermot Barnes‐Holmes, Colin Harte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studying relating of relational networks is a complex and challenging task. The main objective of the present study was to demonstrate relating within and across relational networks based on same/opposite and bigger/smaller contextual cues and establish antecedent control. After nonarbitrary pretraining of the contextual cues, two nonsense stimulus classes were established based on comparative relations. Participants were trained to select stimuli from an array of options based on a symbolic rule that established a relation between two stimuli: one of Network 1 and one of Network 2. Training involved relating Network 1 to Network 2, and testing assessed relating Network 2 to Network 1. Seven of eight participants reached the mastery criterion in training and responded accordingly in test. In a final stage, reinforcing and punishing consequences were varied systematically in the presence of two novel stimuli and antecedent control was observed for all 7 participants. Experiment 2 replicated the results of Experiment 1 but using contextual cues taken from natural language, and Experiment 3 sought to understand the effects of pretraining relational responding using natural language. The mastery criteria were reached by four of seven participants in Experiment 2 and by all eight participants in Experiment 3. Future studies could develop and refine the methods employed here in analyzing the relating of relational networks, thus allowing for an increasingly sophisticated behavior-analytic account of human language and cognition.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
Early online date12 May 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 12 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present research was supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP Grants 2016/05935–6, 2017/10037–0, 2008/57705–8, 2019/24210–0) and by the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq, Grants 573972/2008–7 and 465686/2014–1). The present study is also part of the research program of the Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia sobre Comportamento, Cognição e Ensino (INCT‐ECCE).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior.


  • derived stimulus relations
  • relational frame theory
  • rule-governed behavior
  • verbal behavior


Dive into the research topics of 'Relating relational networks: An initial experimental analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this