Using the operant MTS procedure as a masking task for respondent acquisition of stimulus classes


A functional class refers to a circumstance in which responding is controlled by features of stimuli that are common to all the class members. It is argued that an analysis of substitution of stimulus functions is needed to account for the acquisition of functional classes of different varieties. We examined the acquisition of classes of comparison stimuli presented in a standard matching to sample (MTS) preparation by exposing participants to three tests in which a contextual cue provided the basis for the formation of these classes. In this preparation the equivalence training and test phases served as a masking task that prevented the interference of naming processes or the development of rules describing the commonalities among target class members (comparison stimuli). Most of the participants showed responding with respect to one or more comparison classes even in the absence of specific operant training. Findings suggest that the function shared by a given set of stimuli may be acquired by another stimulus in the absence of operant reinforcement and without the involvement of verbal rules.

Publication Title

Revista Latinoamericana de Psicologia

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