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Stimulus Equivalence: Testing Sidman's (2000) Theory

Minster, Sara Tepaeru, Jones, Max, Elliffe, Douglas and Muthukumaraswamy, Suresh Daniel 2006. Stimulus Equivalence: Testing Sidman's (2000) Theory. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior 85 (3) , pp. 371-391. 10.1901/jeab.2006.15-05

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Sidman's (2000) theory regarding the origin of equivalence relations predicts that a reinforcing stimulus common to distinct equivalence classes must drop out of the equivalence relations. This prediction was tested in the present study by arranging class-specific reinforcers, R1 and R2, following correct responding on the prerequisite conditional discriminations (Ax–Bx, Cx–Bx) for two stimulus classes, A1B1C1 and A2B2C2. A class-common reinforcer, R3, was presented following correct responding on the prerequisite conditional discriminations for a further two stimulus classes, A3B3C3 and A4B4C4. Sidman's theory predicts reinforcer inclusion within Classes 1 and 2 only, given this training arrangement. Experiment 1 tested for the emergence of four equivalence classes and of stimulus–reinforcer and reinforcer–stimulus relations in each class. Four of the 6 subjects demonstrated the reinforcer-based relations in all four equivalence classes, rather than in only those classes with a class-specific reinforcer, as Sidman's theory predicts. One of the remaining 2 subjects showed the reinforcer-based relations in three of the four classes. Experiment 2 extended these findings to document the emergence of interclass matching relations based on the common reinforcer R3, in 5 of 6 subjects, such that a Class 3 sample occasioned the selection of a Class 4 sample when the Class 3 comparison was absent, and similarly, a Class 4 sample occasioned the selection of a Class 3 comparison when the Class 4 comparison was absent. These interclass relations emerged despite the simultaneous maintenance of Class 3 and 4 baseline conditional discriminations, so that the Class 3 and 4 stimuli and reinforcer simultaneously were, and were not, part of a single larger equivalence class. These data are irreconcilable with Sidman's theory, and question the utility of the application of the equivalence relation in describing derived stimulus relations.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Uncontrolled Keywords: stimulus control, equivalence relations, outcome-specific consequences, matching to sample, mouse-click, humans
Publisher: Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
ISSN: 0022-5002
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2019 22:10

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