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Deriving similarity relations by training opposition relations

Grant number: 21/13212-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2022
Effective date (End): February 29, 2024
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Experimental Psychology
Principal Investigator:Júlio César Coelho de Rose
Grantee:Guilherme Sbrocco
Host Institution: Centro de Educação e Ciências Humanas (CECH). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil


Sidman's discoveries established relations of equivalence between stimuli as central for a behavioral analysis of cognition. Subsequent research addressed other relations, such as difference, opposition, comparison, etc. Relational learning generates derived relations and transformation of functions of stimuli in accordance with the learned relations. This project proposes an experiment to investigate the derivation of similarity relations by teaching linear series of relations of opposition. A variant of the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) will be used to train two series of relations of opposition (A1-B1-C1-D1-E1, and A2-B2-C2-D2-E2) in which B1 and B2 will be facial expressions of happiness and sadness, respectively. It is expected that a stimulus opposed, for instance, to a happy face, becomes similar to a sad face, and that a double opposition (e.g., A1 opposite to B1 and B1 opposite to C1) generates a relation of similarity (A1 similar to C1). Derived relations will be verified with two measurement techniques: a testing version of the IRAP and the electrophysiological measure of the N400 cortical potential. The results will contribute to solving theoretical controversies about equivalence of stimulus and relational frame theory.

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