The distinction between operant and respondent behavior classes has received considerable attention throughout the history of behavior analysis. Some have contended that because operant and respondent processes share a number of similarities, the distinction should be dropped. Others, for lack of a better theoretical alternative, have supported the continued distinction. It is suggested that the failure of behavior analysts to recognize the ever-present role of respondent relations in operant conditioning experiments may be impeding the formulation of an effective explanation for stimulus equivalence, which has been investigated primarily as an operant phenomenon. Conceptual issues historically relevant to the operant-respondent distinction are discussed, and equivalence researchers are urged to consider the involvement of both classes of behavior in their analyses.
Rehfeldt, Ruth Anne and Hayes, Linda J.
"The Operant-Respondent Distinction Revisited: Toward an Understanding of Stimulus Equivalence,"
The Psychological Record:
2, Article 1.
Available at: http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/tpr/vol48/iss2/1