Exploring the Role of Verbal Behavior in a New Experimental Task for the Study of Metacontingencies

Angelo A. S. Sampaio, Lorena A. S. Araújo, Mariana E. Gonçalo, Júlia C. Ferraz, Anisiano P. Alves Filho, Ivanessa S. Brito, Naiady M. Barros, Jacqueline I. F. Calado


The concept of metacontingency, as a unit of analysis of cultural selection, has just recently been experimentally investigated. The present research aimed to evaluate the effects of cultural consequences upon interlocking behavioral contingencies (IBCs) employing (a) a new experimental task in which a clear specification and measurement of the topographies involved is possible and (b) a experimental design with a cultural consequence baseline and phase changes based on performance. We also manipulated consequences for IBCs with higher and lower complexity and assessed the effects of different levels of vocal verbal interaction. Undergraduates, assigned to 4 triads, chose individually a comparison figure after the presentation of a sample figure. Individual consequences depended on the relation between the chosen figure and the sample figure. Cultural consequences depended on the relation between figures chosen by 2 (partial IBCs) or 3 participants (total IBCs). After a phase with only the presentation of individual consequences, there were one or two phases with the presentation of cultural consequences as well. In one triad, conversation was not allowed. Participants’ individual responses were selected in few trials and in close temporal proximity, probably because of modeling and instruction of responses. Differences between triads in the effects of cultural consequences on IBCs covaried with the number of trials with utterances regarding the task.


metacontingency; interlocking behavioral contingencies; cultural evolution; verbal behavior; adult humans

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/bsi.v22i0.4180

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