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In three experiments, college students performed either 2- or 3-
comparison conditional discriminations (arbitrary matching to
sample) that utilized 64 different configurations composed of
drawings. Within each configuration, one comparison related to the
sample taxonomically, one related thematically, and, where there
was a third comparison, it did not relate to the sample. In training
phases, subjects received positive verbal feedback for selections of
either the taxonomic or thematic comparisons. Between training
phases, subjects responded to novel configurations similar to those
of training phases on which they received no feedback for their
selections. For some subjects, one cycle through all the phases
ended the experiment (Experiment 1); for others, in a second cycle,
verbal feedback was reversed to follow selections based on the other
relation and all phases were repeated (Experiment 2); and for 1
subject, contextual stimuli indicated which relation would lead to
positive verbal feedback for each selection (Experiment 3). On test
phases, the selections of all subjects became increasingly consistent
with verbal feedback during training while the contextual stimuli
reliably enabled the appropriate relations. These results suggest that
human subjects respond relationally on this task, and that such
relational responding can be contextually controlled.