Effect of Instruction Shaping on conditional discrimination

Project Details


This experiment is part of the line of research dedicated to analyzing how verbal behavior (instructions and rules) facilitates the learning and transfer of non-verbal behavior (conditional discriminations). Two forms of classification of the instructions as independent variables were taken into account; the first refers to the level of abstraction that the instructions included: the level of greater abstraction implied content referring to the relations of the discrimination (difference, equality or similarity) and the low level of abstraction corresponded to the concrete characteristics (instances) of the elements to be discriminated (name of the figure and its color). The second independent variable was the level of participation of the subjects in the construction of the instructions, taking into account whether or not they had an active role, through molding, in the definition of the instruction. Taking into account the two variables, four experimental conditions were formed: 1) Instance Instructions, Non-Molded (I-N); 2) Relationship Instructions, Non-Molded (R-N); 3) Instance Instructions, Molded (I-M) and 4) Relationship Instructions, Molded (R-M). In each experimental condition, five participants were included who were exposed to learning and transfer tests; as dependent variables, the percentage of success was recorded for the intramodal, extramodal and relational learning and transfer tests. The results showed that there are no significant differences between the four conditions, although several regularities were observed. The first is that having to participate in the construction of the instruction makes the training of discrimination longer, especially if it refers to discrimination based on difference relations; in addition, the groups that participated in the formation of the instruction had lower percentages in the learning tests. In the transfer tests, the groups of instruction referred to relationship (R-N and R-M) and that of instruction referred to instance, but molded (I-M), had similar and superior executions to the group of instruction of instance, not molded (I-N).

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Short titleInstruction Shaping and conditional discrimination
Effective start/end date4/02/1328/11/14


  • rule governed behavior
  • instruction shaping
  • conditional discrimination


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