Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Effects of Meaningful Stimuli Contained in Different Numbers of Classes on Equivalence Class Formation

Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Effects of Meaningful Stimuli Contained in Different Numbers of Classes on Equivalence Class Formation

Article excerpt

Keywords Stimulus equivalence * Abstract stimuli * Meaningful stimuli * University students

Stimulus equivalence is defined as responding to relations characterized by reflexivity, symmetry, and transitivity. Stimuli that evoke the same behavioral responses without training are said to be members of an equivalence class (Sidman & Tailby, 1982). The stimuli that eventually become members of an equivalence class can be meaningless or meaningful, as well as vary in degree of meaningfulness (Arntzen, Nartey, & Fields, 2015). In this experiment, we used the linear series (LS) training structure to explore the effect of familiar pictorial stimuli on equivalence class formation.

Previous experiments have found that the inclusion of one class member as a meaningful stimulus in a class of abstract stimuli increases the probability of responding in accordance with equivalence (e.g., Arntzen, 2004; Arntzen & Lian, 2010; Arntzen, Nartey, & Fields, 2014; Fields, Arntzen, Nartey, & Eilifsen, 2012; Holth & Arntzen, 1998; Nartey, Arntzen, & Fields, 2014). Some of the studies have used the LS to form three 5-member classes (AB[right arrow]C[right arrow]D[right arrow]E) and having the C stimuli as familiar pictorial stimuli. For example, Fields et al. (2012) established three 3-node 5-member equivalence classes in adult participants. The experiment was arranged as LS training structure (A[right arrow]B[right arrow]C[right arrow]D[right arrow]E). The main findings were that no participant formed classes when all the A-E stimuli were abstract shapes. However, eight of 10 participants formed classes when the A, B, D, and E stimuli were abstract, and the C stimuli were meaningful pictures. This finding has been replicated in a series of studies (Arntzen et al., 2014; Arntzen, Nartey, et al., 2015; Nartey et al., 2014; Nartey, Arntzen, & Fields, 2015a, b; Nedelcu, Fields, & Arntzen, 2015; Travis, Fields, & Arntzen, 2014). One study focused on the effect of structural location of meaningful stimuli on equivalence class formation (Nartey et al., 2015b). The results from the experiment showed that 60% of participants formed classes when the A stimulus was meaningful and the B to E stimuli were abstract, 40% of participants formed classes when the B stimulus was meaningful and the A, C, D, and E stimuli were abstract, and 70% of participants formed classes when the C stimulus was meaningful and the A, B, D, and E stimuli were abstract. Also, 40% of participants formed classes when the D stimulus was meaningful and the A, B, C, and E stimuli were abstract, and 20% of participants formed classes when the E stimulus was meaningful and the A to D stimuli were abstract. A meaningful stimulus serving as the middle node results in higher yields relative to other locations in the class structure. Thus, would similar effects be found with three, two, or one classes with C stimuli as pictorial stimuli?

Percentage of correct responding has been one of the most important measurements within the research on emergent relations. However, Dymond and Rehfeldt (2001) have suggested some additional measures in research on emergent relations, like sorting or categorization of stimuli and reaction time to comparison stimuli. Lately, a number of studies within research on emergent relations have included sorting tests (Arntzen, 2004; Arntzen, Granmo, & Fields, 2016; Arntzen, Norbom, & Fields, 2015; Cowley, Green, & Braunling-McMorrow, 1992; Dickins, 2011, 2015; Dymond & Rehfeldt, 2001; Eilifsen & Arntzen, 2009, 2011; Fields, Arntzen, & Moksness, 2014; Fields et al., 2012; Fienup & Dixon, 2006; Green, 1990; Hove, 2003; Lowe, Home, Harris, & Randle, 2002; Mackay, Wilkinson, Farrell, & Serna, 2011; Pilgrim & Galizio, 1996; Sigurdardottir, Mackay, & Green, 2012; Smeets, Dymond, & BarnesHolmes, 2000). In general, studies have found that sorting tests have been a quick and easy measurement to administer to assess class partitioning. …

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