Perspectives on Behavior Science

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 33–43 | Cite as

What Is Interesting About Equivalence Relations and Behavior?

  • Murray SidmanEmail author

Why should you, a potential reader, be interested in equivalence relations? Because you will come from many different backgrounds and will have many different interests, I cannot answer that question directly. The best I can do to indicate why you might find equivalence relations worth reading about is to tell why I find equivalence relations worth experimenting and writing about.

Words and Other Symbols Versus Things and Events

A major source of my own interest has been what seems to me a central role of equivalence relations in making language such a powerful factor in our everyday social intercourse with each other. I think we can agree that words have meanings, even while we recognize that the term meaning may itself have many meanings. One kind of word meaning is symbolic reference: many words are symbols; they refer to other things or events. As Skinner pointed out in arguing against what he called reference theories of meaning (Skinner, 1957, pp. 7–10, 86–89, 114–129),...


Meaning Stimulus equivalence Stimulus relations Creativity Induction 


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2018
corrected ​publication May 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Association for Behavior Analysis InternationalSarasotaUSA

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