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

24.7 Generic Extension and the Order of Words

A common irrelevant feature may be the order of the words. You may have learned to say “reinforcement,” for example, as a function of hearing “a stimulus change which increases the probability of the response it follows.” Now someone says, “What do we call it when a response is followed by a stimulus change and the probability of that response occurring under similar circumstances in the future is increased?” Saying “reinforcement” after hearing that would be an example of generic extension.

Generic Extension

An instance of verbal behavior with the following features:

The response form must be a previously learned one

The stimulus must be novel

The novel stimulus must have all of the relevant features of the stimulus that previously controlled the response

The type of elementary verbal relationship between the stimulus and the response

Formal and dynamic characteristics of the response

Formal or dynamic characteristics of the stimulus

Whether or not the current response is followed by reinforcement

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