learn bases of behavior

write original post and one respond to classmate q1 What is the difference between stimulus equivalence learning and relational frame theory?respond to classmate Please define “mand” and offer an example.COLLAPSEMand is a term that Skinner used to explain a verbal behavior in which the response is reinforced by a characteristic consequence and as such is under the functional control of relevant conditions of deprivation or aversive stimulation. Skinner introduced the mand in 1957.For example, when I’m about to leave house and forgot to take keys, I ask my wife “where are my keys” usually will get me keys or at least to provide me with information in regards the location of the keys. It is basically asking for things that you want.


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Judith A. Dygdon, PhD
PSYC 580 Part XV
More on Interactions between Classical and Operant Conditioning
I foreshadowed this next topic last session when I talked about the feedback that I
get from having matched the behavior of a model can come to function as a
reinforcer for me if that matching is richly reinforced.
In order to make that point, I had to take advantage of a fact we know to be true of
interactions between classical and operant condition.
Earlier in this session, I cautioned you to “not fight nature”. Well, here is another
place in which you need to keep nature in mind. The processes of classical and
operant conditioning are natural processes. These processes will work to make
new behavior when stimuli are occurring in the prescribed ways. It is critically
important for you to remember that these processes will result in new behaviors
Let me make this point through an example. Imagine that you are setting a table.
You want the table to look nice and be functional. You are not interested in
conducting a test of gravity. But gravity is a natural process. It is around all the
time, even if you aren’t trying to manipulate or demonstrate it. Now, getting back
to that table you are setting – should you accidentally nudge a fork over the edge,
it’s going to fall to the floor. It doesn’t matter that you weren’t trying to “apply
Same thing with classical and operant conditioning. Any time a behavior regularly
meets with a desirable consequence, it’s going to get strengthened. Also, any time
a relatively neutral stimulus is paired with a desirable or undesirable stimulus, that
neutral stimulus will come to take on some of that emotional meaning. Now, any
time we have a three term contingency in place
we have a likely neutral stimulus (the SD) paired with an emotionally meaningful
consequence (the reinforcement or punishment) that follows. Also, the R (or the
feedback I get from having performed the R) might start out as neutral, but it too is
being paired with the emotionally meaningful consequence.
Judith A. Dygdon, PhD
PSYC 580 Part XV
It is through this process that “matching to sample” becomes a conditioned
reinforcer. Also, a couple of weeks ago, I asked you if you can think of any
problems, or problematic fall out from the use of punishment. Does the natural
opportunity for classical conditioning trials in operant conditioning events help you
see any possible problems resulting from the use of punishment?
Because the mission of our work so far this semester has been to help you
establish a sound basis in the principles established within Learning Theory,
most of my examples have been of relatively simple, discrete, behaviors. In
other words, when looking for an example of a principle, I’ve focused the
“scope” on one behavior. Sometimes, the R on which we’ve focused the scope
was not truly a single behavior but a “bunch of little behaviors”. The scope
will help us understand those kinds of behaviors; It just needs to focused,
sequentially, on each component. Here enters the concept of a behavioral
At this point, I invite you to watch the first video at

After you’ve watched that video, please come back here.
Focusing the scope on the squirrel, we could describe the squirrel’s behavior
as ….
Base of Pole
Judith A. Dygdon, PhD
PSYC 580 Part XV
…. but that would not capture the richness of this behavior, nor would it
capture what we have come to learn happens to the environmental
components involved. This squirrel’s behavior in (1) give you a good picture
of a behavioral chain (alternatively, chain of behavior).
In a chain, we see many small behaviors, each one surrounded by antecedent
and consequent stimuli. A chain is pictured as follows:
(2) SD- R -SPR
Judith A. Dygdon, PhD
PSYC 580 Part XV
Understand that diagram in (2) this way: The first SD- R -SPR captures the
first behavior you see (in the squirrel caper, that would be base of pole — run
up pole — arrive at “diving board”). The final SD- R -SPR (and there is no
theoretical limit to the number of steps in a chain) captures the ultimate
reinforcer (in the squirrel caper, that would be board at end of tube — leap to
bowl — peanuts.)
I’ve drawn a vertical bar between many SPRs and SDs to communicate “having
attained this reinforcer, signals the opportunity for the next behavior in the
chain.” For a behavioral chain to be effective, these SPR / SD relationships
must become established. They can be deliberately taught (e.g., by a squirrel
trainer) or happened upon through trial and error (e.g., by an exploring
You can build a chain of behavior by starting at either end. If you start at the
initial “link”, you will need to artificially introduce a reinforcer (as “arriving
at diving board” probably has no inherent value to most squirrels.) If you do
this, we call the process “forward chaining”. Alternatively, you can build a
chain by starting at the terminal link. Here, the important reinforcer
“naturally” occurs, but you will have to “restrict” the environment.
Expressed in terms of the squirrel example, that would mean:
Place the squirrel on the board at the end of the tube (SD) (with the peanuts in
view). When he leaps (R), he’ll get the peanuts (SPR). This will work because,
as you learned last week, classical conditioning trials are naturally embedded
in operant conditioning trials. Thus, the contingent appearance of “board at
end of tube” (CS) and “peanut” (UCS) will eventually establish “board at end
of tube” as a conditional reinforcer, ready to strengthen the penultimate
behavior in the chain.
Judith A. Dygdon, PhD
PSYC 580 Part XV
I mention chains because we recognize them, and seek to build them, in many
clinical contexts. Our mission at this moment is not to talk about therapy, but
let me give you a coming attraction. Problem-solving skills training is
something to which we will appeal in many clinical applications. When we
teach problem-solving skills, we teach a client to follow a sequence of steps in
order to move from the identification of an aversive situation, through the
generation of possible response options, to the application of a response option
with good promise of success. (You’ve probably seen this. Often, we’ll give
these steps names, like: Identify the problem, Determine the goal, Generate
alternatives, Evaluate alternatives and choose, Plan for Action; etc.) What
I’d like you to see is that when we teach problem-solving skills, we are
teaching a behavioral chain. Note that “problem-solving” is a private,
cognitive behavior. Nevertheless, we believe it to be a private, cognitive,
behavioral chain.
Judith A. Dygdon, PhD
PSYC 580 Part XIV
Our focus in this class is Learning Theory. As I said at the opening of our
class, Learning Theory is not the only theoretical constructional we have in
clinical psychology. Our various theories can be categorized into two types.
Learning Theory is best classified (using labels introduced by Catania) as a
functional theory. Functional theories lay out rules for the experiential events
that will cause behaviors to be acquired or changed. Being a good example of
a functional theory, learning theory lays out the rules for experiential events
that will cause behaviors (both elicited and emitted) to be acquired or
changed. In case you haven’t already noticed this, please see now that
learning theory rules tell you how behaviors are acquired and change, but it
does not tell what are the important behaviors to be acquired and changed.
There are other theories with a “flip-side” focus. Catania would call these
structural theories. Structural theories do not take on the task of laying out
generally how behaviors are acquired and changed. Rather, they address
the question, “What are the important behaviors for human beings to have?”
Learning theory is a good example of a functional theory. There are many
structural theories. One that comes to my mind right now as I am looking for
an example to give you is Attachment Theory. Attachment theory outlines the
importance, for human beings, of establishing secure attachments and the
problems that follow from variants of secure attachments.
What is important for you to recognize is that functional and structural
theories are not at odds with each other. They simply address different
Many learning theory oriented therapists follow their clients’ leads (or
information from the client’s family or cultural group) in determining what
are the important behaviors for the client to acquire or change. Others will
look for direction from any of a number of structural theories. Some will do a
little bit of both.
(This is a really good time to reread the Dygdon, Conger, and Strahan, 2004
article I assigned a couple of weeks ago.)
Judith A. Dygdon, PhD
PSYC 580 Part XIV
In the previous section of my notes, I started to talk about some concepts that
help us use operant conditioning with complex human behavior. I want to
continue along that path.
Direct Mode
So far, in my talk about classical conditioning and in my talk about operant
conditioning, I have used examples that fit a direct mode of conditioning.
What I mean by that is that I’ve given examples of things people experience
(e.g., Bob was bitten by a dog) or things people do (“I write a lecture) in real
life, with real contact with those experiences or with the consequences of their
We can certainly learn new elicited and new emitted behaviors through direct
However, direct experience is not the only way in which we can experience
classical and operant conditioning trials. There are two other modes through
which we can learn.
Perhaps you are already guessing what they are. We will use all the same
rules of classical and operant conditioning to organize and predict learning
through these other modes, but they won’t involve directly experiencing
things in the environment.
Verbal Mode
Humans (and some other organisms) are capable of using symbols to
represent the real world.
What is our biggest set of symbols?
So, in addition to learning through the DIRECT mode, one other mode
through which we learn is:
Judith A. Dygdon, PhD
PSYC 580 Part XIV
OK. Some comments on how to think about language in human behavior:
Language is a set of symbols, used to represent things in the environment,
behaviors of people, relationships among things, relationships among
behaviors, relationships between things and behaviors.
Remember, learning respects biology -Humans have an innate capacity for learning to use language
• We don’t learn the capacity (that’s innate)
• We do learn how to use the capacity
The way in which we learn to use language, or more generally, to
communicate symbolically, is called
Stimulus Equivalence Learning
We say that a person has developed a set of equivalent stimuli if, for a set of
independent stimuli, the subject can use the stimuli in
1. reflexivity (A = A)
2. symmetry (if A = B, then B = A)
3. and transitivity (if A = B, and B = C, then A = C) relations
• after some of those relations are explicitly trained, some others
naturally emerge. (When you think about it, this is another one of those
“Wow” moments.)
You see stimulus equivalence learning all around you.
Imagine language learning for a child:
• teach the child to match your spoken word “dog” (A) with his spoken
word “dog” (A) (This is teaching a reflexivity relation; that is, this
Judith A. Dygdon, PhD
PSYC 580 Part XIV
spoken word “dog” means the same things as that spoken word “dog”,
• teach the child to match your spoken word “dog” (A), with a photo of a
“dog” (B) (This is teaching a symmetry relation.)
• teach the child to match a photo of a dog (B) with the written word
“dog” (C) (This is teaching a symmetry relation.)
Following this:
Other reflexivity uses are likely to emerge.
• Child will understand “dog” (A) from another, novel, speaker to mean
the same word “dog” (A) he has heard before
Transitivity uses are likely to emerge.
• Child will be able to match spoken word “dog” (A) with written word
“dog” (C) even if that relation was not explicitly trained !!!!!!!
NOW … why did I ask you to read that 1991 article by Hayes?
First thing: I realize Hayes’ article is dense and could justify weeks of focus
on its own. I will not ask you (on an exam) anything about Hayes’ article that
I do not cover here. I will not ask you to define Hayes’ “mutual entailment”
or “combinatorial entailment”. At this stage of your development in learning
theory, you first must master the terms of “reflexivity”, “symmetry” and
“transitivity” used by the early workers (like Sidman, as cited by Hayes, 1991)
in stimulus equivalence. (I am hoping that you can see “reflexivity”,
“symmetry” and “transitivity” embedded in Hayes’ terms, but I won’t test
you on that.) What is important for you to know is that this article by Hayes
opened an important new path in learning theory based clinical work, thus I
feel it is important for you to “taste” it.
Specifically, note that Hayes 1991 is elaborating on stimulus equivalence
learning and acknowledges its application to how human beings learn
language. His big point in this paper is the introduction of “Crel”. That is, he
argues that, in order to use language effectively, the stimulus configuration of
a particular context signals whether an acquired stimulus equivalency is in
effect. What exactly does this mean?
Judith A. Dygdon, PhD
PSYC 580 Part XIV
It means that human beings who have the ability (to use context to signal
whether an equivalency is in effect) can determine when a verbal utterance is
veridical versus when that same utterance is offered as a joke, solely for
affiliative purposes, or offered by a speaker who is not trustworthy.
Hayes will go on to call this perspective “Relational Control Theory” and
argues that this behavior (the ability to use contextual cues to determine if
words should be trusted as “truthful” ) is a learned behavior. “Relational
Control Theory” went on to become the basis of Acceptance and Commitment
Therapy (ACT). ACT is designed to help people who do not possess this
critical skill; that is, those who have not learned to restrict the application of
language based self-statements. Because ACT developed from within the
learning theory tradition, and uses learning theory as its functional base, you
will learn about it in PSYC 641B. Note that, though it uses learning theory as
its functional base, Relational Frame Theory gets a little structural in that it
says that the ability to use contextual cues to determine if words should be
trusted as “truthful” is an important behavior to learn.
————————————————–Back to the Verbal Mode of Conditioning: Our ability to use words as
symbols for things in the physical world allows us to learn new elicited
behaviors through verbally represented CS/UCS pairings and new emitted
behaviors through verbal S-R-S trials.
Judith A. Dygdon, PhD
PSYC 580 Part XIV
Rules and Rule Governed Behavior
We have a special name for emitted behaviors taught through verbal
representations of the consequence they will attain. We call those verbal
representations “rules” and behaviors that follow such rules, “rule governed
• We can deliver
SD – R – SPR,
SD – R – SNR,
SD – R – SPP,
SD – R – SNP,
trials through words ad this can save some learning time.
Isn’t communicating with rules this just giving advice?
• Yes and No.
• We’ve learned that some rules are better than others
• Or some advice is better than others at building new behaviors.
Good rules do a better job of capturing specific
Some Comments on Skinner’s Talk about Language
Since we are talking about language, let me interject some important
terminology. Skinner, though many don’t realize this, was very interested in
how learning, specfically operant conditioning, was manifest in human
behavior. He did a lot of writing about human verbal behavior and how it is
acquired. Learning believes that we don’t learn the capacity for language,
though our “verbal community” does shape how we use that capacity (the fact
that there are several languages in the human verbal community is simple
evidence of that).
Because Skinner was all about function (i.e., Why is the behavior there? What
reinforcers does it access?) he came up with categories for verbal behavior
Judith A. Dygdon, PhD
PSYC 580 Part XIV
based on their functions. You will see labels used occasionally now. I expect
you will see them used more often as we more further forward in studying
human behavior.
Here are his labels:
TACT – identifies a verbal behavior that names a behavior, a stimulus in the
environment or inside an organism, or the interactions among behaviors,
among stimuli, and among behaviors and stimuli. A “rule” as discussed
above, is a tact. Though it may sound to you like Skinner has just developed
another name for “noun” that is not the case. Skinner is not labeling parts of
speach. Note that the definition reads “… a verbal behavior…”, not “a word”.
When I say things like “I am typing”, “table”, “she is reading”, “they are
standing on the corner and waiting for a bus”, I am tacting.
MAND – identifies a verbal behavior that “tacts it own reinforcer”. In
everyday language, when “I ask/tell you to do something” we often call this a
“command”. The label “mand” comes from “command”. When I say things
like “Bring me a glass of water”, “Come here”, “Stay away”, “Read these
notes in preparation for the exam”, I am manding.
AUTOCLITIC – these are behaviors that emphasize or qualify tacts or
mands. No, they are not exactly adjectives and adverbs. Those labels apply to
single words. “Autoclitic” applies to behaviors, which might be single words,
or might be much more, that qualify, direct, emphasize, etc. verbal behaviors.
For example, when I say “stay away” I am issuing a simple mand. When I say
“You, stay away”. I am also manding, but I am restricting the focus of the
mand. Used in this way, “you” counts as an autoclitic. Note that I could
accomplish the same thing by pointing to you, while I say “stay away”. In this
case, the pointing would also count as an autoclitic (even though it, itself is not
verbal) because it qualifies my verbal behavior.
Judith A. Dygdon, PhD
PSYC 580 Part XIV
Skinner says that, independent of specific language, we learn to use verbal
behavior to tact and mand and learning autoclitics help those work better.
Skinner argued that, despite a capacity to develop and use language, humans
need to have verbal communities to demonstrate language use and to
reinforce its appropriate production and application.
Judith A. Dygdon, PhD
PSYC 580 Part XIV
Observational Mode
So, we can learn behaviors through DIRECT and VERBAL classical and
operant conditioning trials. Is that it? No, one more
We learn new behaviors through
• Through the DIRECT mode
• Through the VERBAL mode
• Through the OBSERVATIONAL mode
We say that learning through observation is the imitation of the
response/behavior of a model without previ …
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