THE MERGER AND DEVELOPMENT OF EQUIVALENCE CLASSES BY UNREINFORCED CONDITIONAL SELECTION OF COMPARISON STIMULI

Richard R. Saunders, Kathryn J. Saunders, Kimberly C. Kirby, Joseph E. Spradlin

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100 Scopus citations

Abstract

Three experiments assessed the likelihood that subjects with histories of equivalence class development would respond conditionally on new discriminations in the absence of differential consequences for responses. In the first two experiments, two groups of subjects with different experimental histories, but whose performances showed four equivalence classes, responded on trials without explicit reinforcement involving samples from two of the classes and comparisons from the other two classes, in a two‐choice matching‐to‐sample format. Subjects consistently selected a particular comparison in the presence of a particular sample. Subsequent tests showed the emergence of equivalence relations between stimuli from classes linked by the unreinforced conditional selections. Subsequently, in Experiment II, the subjects' responses in the conditional selection trials were reinforced if the selection was reversed from that made previously. Although reversed selection was maintained, 2 of the 3 subjects continued to perform on equivalence relation trials according to their original unreinforced selections. In the third experiment, these 2 subjects responded on a series of conditional discriminations involving three new pairs of sample stimuli and one new pair of comparison stimuli. No explicit reinforcement followed responses on any trial in this experiment. Subsequent tests for equivalence between sample stimuli revealed the development of two equivalence classes. 1988 Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-162
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
Volume50
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1988

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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