Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Equivalence-Equivalence Responding: Training Conditions Involved in Obtaining a Stable Baseline Performance

Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Equivalence-Equivalence Responding: Training Conditions Involved in Obtaining a Stable Baseline Performance

Article excerpt

If conditional discrimination training is used to generate the unidirectional relational responses "match B with A" and "match C with B", where A, B, and C are arbitrary stimuli, then in an additional appropriate testing context, a series of further, nonexplicitly trained relational responses will often appear. Such derived relational responses might include matching A with A, B with B, and C with C (reflexivity or identity matching); matching A with B and C (reversal of trained relations or symmetry); matching C with A (transitivity); and matching A with C (the combination of symmetry and transitivity). This phenomenon is referred to as stimulus equivalence (Sidman, 1971; Sidman & Tailby, 1982). Since it is characterized by both generativity and bi-directionality, it has provided a useful avenue for the empirical investigation of certain complex processes. Examples are creativity (Gomez, Garcia, Perez, Gutierrez, & Bohorquez, 2004), symbolic behavior (Carr & Blackman, 1996; Horne & Lowe, 1996), language (Fields, Verhave & Fath, 1984; Sidman, 1986a, 1990b), and concept formation (Zentall, Galizio, & Critchfield, 2002).

Evidence from previous research has shown stimulus equivalence to be a highly robust phenomenon, appearing in studies that include psychologically-impaired populations (Escuer, Garcia, Bohorquez, & Gutierrez, 2006; Hall, DeBernardis, & Reiss, 2006; O'Donnell & Saunders, 2003; Saunders & Spradlin, 1993; Sidman, 1971; Sidman, Cresson, & Wilson-Morris, 1974; Stromer & Osborne, 1982), normally-developed children of different ages (Denavy, Hayes, & Nelson, 1986; Lipkens, Hayes, & Hayes, 1993; Pilgrim, Chambers, & Galizio, 1995), adults from different cultures and with differing levels of education (Bush, Sidman, & de Rose, 1989; Lazar, 1977; Wulfert & Hayes, 1988), and elderly people (Perez-Gonzalez & Moreno-Sierra, 1999). Likewise, the variable that best shows the importance of studying equivalence relations is its capacity to improve the learning process (e.g., Cowley, Green, & Braunling-McMorrow, 1992; de Rose, Souza, Rossito, & de Rose, 1992; Garcia, Gutierrez, Gomez, & Puche, 2001; Lynch & Cuvo, 1995; Maydak, Stromer, Mackay, & Stoddard, 1995; Stromer, Mackay, & Stoddard, 1992; for an in-depth review, see Garcia & Benjumea, 2002).

For the most part, studies on equivalence have employed single-element stimuli as sample and comparison stimuli. However, several research projects on derived relations have used compound or multiple-element stimuli (Benigno-Alonso & Perez-Gonzalez, 2006; Carpentier, Smeets, & Barnes-Holmes, 2000, 2002a; Maguire, Stromer, Mackay, & Demis, 1994; Markhan & Dougher, 1993; Markhan, Dougher, & Augustson, 2002; Perez-Gonzalez, 1994; Schenk, 1993; Smeets, Schenk, & Barnes, 1995; Stromer & Stromer, 1990a, 1990b). Furthermore, recent studies have shown that human subjects readily match compound stimuli containing single elements included in an equivalence relation with other compound stimuli containing equivalent elements. Additionally, they are able to relate compound stimuli containing nonequivalent elements to other nonequivalent compounds. This phenomenon is referred to as equivalence-equivalence (Barnes, Hegarty, & Smeets, 1997; Carpentier, Smeets, & Barnes-Holmes, 2002b, 2003a, 2003b; Carpentier, Smeets, Barnes-Holmes, & Stewart, 2004; Stewart, Barnes-Holmes, & Roche, 2004; Stewart, Barnes-Holmes, Roche, & Smeets, 2001).

Barnes et al. (1997) conducted the first study on equivalence-equivalence relations. These authors trained four three-member equivalence relations (A1B1C1, A2B2C2, A3B3C3, A4B4C4) and tested for several BC-BC (equivalence-equivalence) derived relations. One of the findings of this study was that subjects were more likely to choose a comparison with elements pertaining to an equivalence class (e. …

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