What are Stimulus Generalization and Response Generalization?
Stimulus generalization and response generalization are two of the more difficult terms RBTs must learn in preparation for their RBT exam. These terms even give BCBAs difficulty at times. Both stimulus generalization and response generalization are cornerstones of good applied behavior analysis treatment. Generalization occurs when relevant behaviors happen under different, untrained conditions. Generalization can occur across subjects, people, behaviors, time, and settings. Generalization should be planned for, and actively taught. We should not “train and hope” as RBTs and BCBAs.
Stimulus generalization occurs when untrained or new stimuli evoke the same response as a trained or known stimuli. Multiple stimuli evoke the same response. In other words, the same response will occur in the presence of a variety of trained untrained stimuli. When you are taking your RBT exam, and you are unsure whether or not stimulus generalization occurred, always think about how many stimuli are present in the question. If there are multiple stimuli, than it just might be stimulus generalization.
An example of stimulus generalization would be grabbing a handful of hot Cheetos, skittles, or chocolate almonds. The same response (grabbing a handful) is occurring in the presence of a variety of stimuli.
Response generalization occurs when untrained or novel responses that serve the same function occur in the presence of a single stimulus. When you are taking your RBT exam, and you are unsure whether or not response generalization occurred, always think about how many responses are present in the question. If multiple responses are taking place, and there is only one stimulus, then response generalization may have occurred.
An example of response generalization would be learning to greet your friend with “hi.” You then start greeting your friend with “hello”, “what’s up”, and “how are you?”
Stimulus and Response Generalization on the RBT Exam
RBTs must know these two concepts for their RBT exam. Both concepts appear on the RBT task list under generalization. If you are preparing for your RBT exam, I recommend my RBT Task List Study Guide, and my RBT Practice Exams which you can find in our RBT Study Materials Shop. Good RBT exam prep should include RBT study guides, RBT flashcards, and RBT practice exams. I also recommend you check out my free library of RBT exam and competency videos on YouTube. For more on stimulus generalization and response generalization, watch the video below: