Introductory Concepts
Elementary Relationships
Extensions of Verbal Behavior
Multiple Controlling Relationships
Building on the Elementary Relationships

22.7 Stimulus Features of “Dog”

Let’s consider the tact “dog.” Dogs have several stimulus features, including canine teeth, four legs, claws on feet, tails, fur, barking, color, size, shape, and so on. Which of these features must be present before we would reinforce someone for saying “dog” on that occasion? For introductory purposes, it will be helpful for us to ignore strange examples or uncommon exceptions: for example, a Basenji doesn’t bark, but is still called a dog…but most dogs bark.

A small dog featured on a white background. OR A small dog with stimulus features on a white background.
Relevant Stimulus FeatureIrrelevant Stimulus Feature
A property of an object or event that must be present before a response is reinforcedA property of an object or event upon whose presence reinforcement is not contingent
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