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ERIC Number: EJ997550
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004-May
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 69
ISSN: ISSN-0022-5002
Function Transfer in Human Operant Experiments: The Role of Stimulus Pairings
Tonneau, Francois; Gonzalez, Carmen
Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, v81 n3 p239-255 May 2004
Although function transfer often has been studied in complex operant procedures (such as matching to sample), whether operant reinforcement actually produces function transfer in such settings has not been established. The present experiments, with high school students as subjects, suggest that stimulus pairings can promote function transfer in conditions that closely approximate those of matching to sample. In Experiment 1, the subjects showed transfer of operant responding from three geometric figures (C1, C2, C3) to three colored shapes (B1, B2, B3) when the latter were paired with the former. Experiment 2 involved two groups of subjects. In the matching group, subjects matched the colored shapes with the geometric figures; in the yoked group, the shapes were merely paired with the geometric figures, and the schedule of stimulus pairing was yoked to the performance of the subjects in the matching group. Both groups of subjects showed function transfer. Experiment 3 documented function transfer from C stimuli to B stimuli through indirect stimulus pairings (A-B, A-C). In Experiment 4, function transfer was obtained even though the subjects vocalized continuously during the pairing trials, presumably preventing covert verbalization that might mediate transfer effects. Our results are consistent with a Pavlovian account and raise difficulties for current operant theories of function transfer. (Contains 6 figures.)
Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. Available from: Indiana University Department of Psychology. Bloomington, IN 47405. Tel: 812-334-0395; Fax: 812-855-4691; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A