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Perspectives on Behavior Science

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 69–93 | Cite as

Meaningful Stimuli and the Enhancement of Equivalence Class Formation

  • Lanny Fields
  • Erik Arntzen
Article
  • 142 Downloads

Abstract

Stimulus meaningfulness has been defined by its hedonic valence, denotative (definitional) and connotative (evaluative) properties, and its influence on forming categories called equivalence classes. Positive or negative hedonic value of a meaningful stimulus transfers to the other members of an equivalence class that contains such a stimulus, and also influences likelihood of class formation. The denotative and connotative properties of meaningful stimuli are instantiated by the responses they produced (simple discriminative functions) and by the selection of other related words (conditional discriminative functions). If a meaningless cue acquires one such stimulus control function, and is included in a set of otherwise meaningless stimuli, its inclusion enhances the formation of an equivalence class. These results suggest ways to enhance equivalence class formation in applied settings. When degree of enhancement matches that produced by the inclusion of a meaningful stimulus in a class, class enhancement can be accounted for by the stimulus control functions it serves, as well as its hedonic, denotative, and connotative properties. We also linked equivalence class formation and meaningfulness to semantic networks, relational frame theory, verbal behavior, and naming.

Keywords

Equivalence classes Meaningfulness Enhancement Stimulus control functions Connotation Denotation Hedonic value 

Notes

Funding

This research was funded by the PSC/CUNY Research Awards Program and Oslo and Akershus University College.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human Participants and Animal Studies

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards or were determined to be exempt from review by the committee.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the experiments.

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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lanny Fields
    • 1
  • Erik Arntzen
    • 2
  1. 1.Queens College and the Graduate SchoolCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Oslo and Akershus University CollegeOsloNorway

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