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Manual-Observing Procedure: an Alternative to the Investigation of Stimulus Control and Equivalence Classes in Matching-to-Sample


This experiment presents a manual-observing procedure as an inexpensive alternative for investigating stimulus control and establishing equivalence classes in a matching-to-sample task (MTS). To illustrate the procedure, we evaluated the effects of different MTS training structures on observing responses and equivalence class formation. Participants had to press a button below each covered sample and comparison stimuli to reveal the stimulus. Four participants were exposed to two different sequences of the many-to-one (MTO) and one-to-many (OTM) procedures, using the manual-observing procedure during training and testing. The results showed that the manual-observing procedure allowed participants to acquire conditional discriminations and form equivalence classes, suggesting that the use of manual-observing responses in an MTS procedure is a useful procedure to evaluate stimulus control in an MTS task.

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This research was supported by a Doctoral scholarship to Paulo S. D. Soares-Filho (CAPES) and University of San Buenaventura Institutional Research Grant (2018), William F. Perez and Heloísa C. Campos (FAPESP) and Eliana I. M. Hamasaki (CNPq); scientific initiation scholarship to Lígia M. de Carvalho (CNPq/INCT-ECCE); and a Research Productivity Grant (CNPq) to Gerson Y. Tomanari. Paulo S. D. Soares Filho, William F. Perez, Heloísa C. Campos, Eliana I. M. Hamasaki, Lígia M. de Carvalho and Gerson Y. Tomanari are members of the National Institute of Science and Technology on Behavior, Cognition, and Teaching, supported by FAPESP (grant no. 08/57705-8) and CNPq (grant no. 573972/2008-7).

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Correspondence to Paulo Sérgio Dillon Soares-Filho.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The ethics committee of the Psychology Institute at the University of São Paulo approved all procedures used in this experiment (#14026913.2.0000.5561).

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The participation in this experiment was completely voluntary and an informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Soares-Filho, P.S.D., de Carvalho, L.M., de Moraes Hamasaki, E.I. et al. Manual-Observing Procedure: an Alternative to the Investigation of Stimulus Control and Equivalence Classes in Matching-to-Sample. Psychol Rec 69, 165–174 (2019).

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  • Manual-observing responses
  • Matching-to-sample
  • Equivalence class
  • Training structures