Basic and Translational Research on Stimulus-stimulus Relations
Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
One of the great challenges for a behavioral science is to provide an account of emergent stimulus–stimulus relations not explained by primary stimulus generalization. For example, the relation between the visual stimulus dog and the sound made when someone says “dog” is often referred to as arbitrary because the two stimuli have no point-to-point correspondence (one is a sound, the other a creature incapable of making the sound “dog”). In humans, through natural language training, these two stimuli are related (an activity) such that they may occasion similar responding. For example, a child suffering from a dog phobia may experience an increased heart rate and jump into the arms of a parent who says, at the front door of a friend’s house, “They have a dog,” just as he would if he saw the dog. This two-member class of arbitrarily related stimuli is expanded when the verbal response “perro” is related as equivalent to “dog” and, subsequently, hearing “They have a perro” elicits the same fear responding in the dog-phobic listener.
Dougher, M., Twohig, M. P., & Madden, G. J. (2014). Basic and translational research on stimulus-stimulus relations. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 101, 1-9.