Rapid Teaching of Arbitrary Matching in Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities

UMMS Affiliation

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center; Shriver Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Experimental Analysis of Behavior | Mental Disorders | Special Education and Teaching


This research extended to arbitrary matching-to-sample procedures a method that was successful in rapidly establishing identity matching in children with and without intellectual disabilities (Mackay et al., 2002). The method involves increasing the number of identical comparison stimuli in a choice array in order to create a homogenous background that makes the target more salient, thus likely to prompt selection. The number of comparison stimuli then is faded systematically contingent on accurate responding. This method unites cognitive research on visual search and behavior analytic research on conditional stimulus control. Two experiments examined use of the method to teach arbitrary relations between visual stimuli (numerals and colors and their printed names) and between visual and auditory stimuli (e.g., numerals and colors and their dictated names). Results demonstrated the generality of the method to symbolic matching. This finding is important for conceptual reasons and for its relevance to special education.

DOI of Published Version



Morro G, Mackay HA, Carlin MT. Rapid Teaching of Arbitrary Matching in Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities. Psychol Rec. 2014 Dec 1;64(4):731-742. PubMed PMID: 25408559; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4232851. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Psychological record

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID