Common physical properties among relational networks improve analogy aptness

J Exp Anal Behav. 2015 May;103(3):498-510. doi: 10.1002/jeab.147. Epub 2015 Apr 17.


Relational frame theory (RFT) conceptualizes analogy as the establishment of a relation of coordination among common types of relations. This study provided an initial RFT analysis of analogy aptness. Twenty participants initially learned to respond to the structure of analogical tests after which they were trained on two separate relational networks, each consisting of three equivalence classes (Network: 1 F1-G1-H1, F2-G2-H2, F3-G3-H3; Network 2: M1-N1-O1, M2-N2-O2, M3-N3-O3). The node stimuli always appeared with color spots on their backgrounds (F1 and M1: yellow; F2 and M2: red; F3 and M3: blue). In the critical test, participants had to select the more correct response from two options: relating combinatorial relations of coordination with the same color in the node stimuli (e.g., relating G1H1 to N1O1) versus relating combinatorial relations with different colors in the node stimuli (e.g., relating G1H1 to N2O2). The colors of the node stimuli did not appear on the critical test. Ninety percent of participants selected the analogies with common color properties as the more correct ones. Practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Keywords: Relational Frame Theory; analogical relations; analogy aptness; arbitrary matching-to-sample; derived stimulus relations; relational network.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Concept Formation*
  • Cues
  • Discrimination Learning*
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Female
  • Form Perception
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Psychological Theory
  • Young Adult