The Effect of Before and After Instructions on the Speed of Sequential Responding

John M. Hyland, Sinead Smyth, Denis P. O’Hora, Julian Leslie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Order judgements are slower and less accurate when reversed. That is, when participants see two events in a sequence (e.g., circle …square), they are quicker to report ‘Before’ statements (e.g., “Circle before Square”) than ‘After’ statements (“Square after Circle”). The current study sought to determine whether a reversal effect will also occur when participants are instructed to produce a sequence of responses. Twenty participants were trained to criterion on simple ‘Before’ and ‘After’ instructions that specified sequences of two responses (e.g., “Circle before Square”). In a subsequent test, participants produced instructed sequences (e.g., circle … square) more quickly and more reliably when instructed to choose one stimulus before another than when they were requested to choose one stimulus after another. The implications of these findings for current theories of relational responding are considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-319
JournalThe Psychological Record
Issue number2
Early online date2 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Jun 2014


  • Before
  • After
  • Sequential responding
  • Temporal instructions
  • Relational responding
  • Mutual entailment


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