The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 19–30 | Cite as

Equivalence class formation in non-hearing impaired children and hearing impaired children

  • Dermot Barnes
  • Paul D. McCullagh
  • Michael Keenan


The relationship between verbal behavior and stimulus equivalence was examined using three sets of children differing in chronological age and verbal ability: (1) non-hearing impaired three and four year olds who had verbal skills generally consistent with their chronological ages; (2) partially hearing (severe to profoundly deaf) children who were rated with verbal ages of above 2 years; and (3) partially hearing children (also severely to profoundly deaf) who were rated with verbal ages of below 2 years. All children were taught a series of four conditional discriminations using unfamiliar stimuli. The children were then tested to determine whether classes of equivalent stimuli had formed. Although all the children were able to learn the conditional discriminations equally well and all the verbally-able children (normal and partially hearing) formed equivalence classes, only one of the verbally-impaired children reliably demonstrated stimulus equivalence formation. These results are consistent with the suggestion that stimulus equivalence and human verbal behavior are closely related.


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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dermot Barnes
    • 1
  • Paul D. McCullagh
    • 2
  • Michael Keenan
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Applied PsychologyUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  2. 2.University of UlsterColeraineNorthern Ireland

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