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The main purpose of the present study was to determine
whether exemplar training in symmetry relations would readily
facilitate the transformation of function in accordance with
symmetry, when subjects were not provided with explicit name
training. The study also examined whether pretraining that was
formally similar to the symmetry test, but did not reinforce
symmetry relations, would have the same facilitative effect as
exemplar training. Sixteen children, aged between 4 and 5 years,
were employed across three experiments (i.e., 4 children each in
Experiments 1 and 2, and 8 children in Experiment 3). In
Experiment 1, subjects were trained in an action-object conditional
discrimination using familiar actions and objects (e.g., when the
experimenter waved, choosing a toy car was reinforced, and when
the experimenter clapped, choosing a doll was reinforced).
Subjects were then exposed to a test for derived object-action
symmetry relations (e.g., experimenter presents toy car-*child
waves and experimenter presents doll-*child claps). Across
subsequent sessions, a multiple-baseline design was used to
introduce exemplar training (i.e., explicit symmetry training) for
those subjects who failed the symmetry test. Experiment 2
replicated Experiment 1, except that the trained and tested
relations were reversed (i.e., train object-action, test action-object
relations). Experiment 3 replicated Experiment 1, except that
subjects were exposed to object-action pretraining. Across
Experiments 1 and 2, none of the 8 subjects show derived objectaction
(Experiment 1) or action-object (Experiment 2) symmetry
until they received explicit symmetry training. Pretraining objectaction
responding in Experiment 3 appeared to facilitate
symmetry, but only for 4 of the 8 subjects. For the 4 subjects who
failed, symmetry emerged following exposure to exemplar training.
Overall, the data are consistent with Relational Frame Theory.