Outlining a dialogue between Sidman and Hayes about emergent relations (1982-1994)

Marcos Spector Azoubel, Nilza Micheletto


Stimulus equivalence, as presented by Sidman and his colleagues, and relational frame theory, proposed by Hayes and his colleagues, are two of the main alternatives for explaining emergent relations between stimuli. The goal of this study is to analyze Hayes’s criticisms of Sidman’s conceptual contributions and Sidman’s criticisms of Hayes’s conceptual contributions between 1982 and 1994. Hayes and colleagues deviated from Sidman and colleagues when the former argued the following: contingencies that are systematically arranged by a verbal community seem to be necessary for the emergence of stimulus equivalence; that Sidman’s concept of stimulus equivalence fails to explain why nonverbal animals are not capable to demonstrating equivalence; and that Sidman’s concept of stimulus equivalence is merely descriptive and lacks a theoretical explanation for the emergence of the phenomenon. In turn, Sidman confronted some of these issues and argued that relational frame theory is based on hypothetical generalized operant behaviors, without a simple explanation based on known behavioral principles and without the necessary supporting data. He pointed to the various experimental studies that should be carried out to tackle the divergences that had appeared.


symbolic behavior; stimulus equivalence; RFT; stimulus control; radical behaviorism.

Full Text:


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5514/rmac.v47.i2.81162

Editor in Chief:

Dr. Carlos J. Flores-Aguirre


ISSN: 0185-4534

ISSN Electrónico: 2007-0802