Document Type


Date of Degree


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Edward A. Wasserman

First Committee Member

Mark Blumberg

Second Committee Member

John Freeman

Third Committee Member

Joel Ringdahl

Fourth Committee Member

Larissa Samuelson

Fifth Committee Member

John P Spencer


If an organism is explicitly taught an A->B association, then might it also spontaneously learn the symmetrical B->A association? There is only a small amount of evidence that attests to the detection of emergent symmetry in nonhuman animals (e.g., one chimpanzee and two pigeons). This report examines the necessary and sufficient conditions for finding emergent symmetry in pigeons while attempting to control for the problems of spatial and temporal location found in previous symmetry and stimulus equivalence experiments. Using a successive go/no go matching-to-sample procedure, which showed all of the training and testing stimuli in one location, four experimental manipulations were examined. In Experiment 1 temporal location was controlled without the inclusion of identity matching intermixed with arbitrary matching; Experiment 2 contained identity matching with stimuli different from arbitrary matching; in Experiment 3 identity matching was trained to criterion and then intermixed with arbitrary matching; and in Experiment 4 two sets of arbitrary matching were trained (e.g., AB and CD) but only one of those stimulus sets was trained in identity matching (e.g., AB). No evidence of emergent symmetry was found in Experiments 1 and 2. In Experiment 3, two pigeons showed moderate evidence of emergent symmetry, one pigeon showed suggestive evidence of emergent symmetry, and one pigeon did not show any evidence of emergent symmetry. In Experiment 4, two pigeons showed moderate evidence of emergent symmetry with the AB Stimulus Set (one of those pigeons also showed suggestive evidence of emergent symmetry with the CD Stimulus Set) and one pigeon did not show any evidence of emergent symmetry with either stimulus set. These data suggest that intermixing identity matching with the same stimuli used in arbitrary matching is a necessary, but not sufficient condition to obtaining emergent symmetry in pigeons.


emergent symmetry, associative symmetry, bidirectional conditioning, stimulus equivalence, concept formation, match-to-sample


x, 114 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 74-80).


Copyright 2007 Andrea Jean Frank

Included in

Psychology Commons