The Formation of Arbitrary Stimulus Classes in Matching to Complex Samples
This study assessed whether arbitrary stimulus classes would emerge via elements of complex sample stimuli. College students learned matching to sample (AB-D/AC-E) where D and E forms were selected conditionally upon complex tone/color samples (AB and AC). Unreinforced tests were then given to assess emergent relations among the five sets of stimuli (e.g., A-B, D-B, B-C, B-E, and D-E). The test performances for 14 of 18 subjects were consistent with the experimentally defined stimulus classes. These 14 subjects were also given tests with new F forms as sample elements (Test AF-B). Subsequent testing for emergent relations (e.g., F-D and E-F) showed that the classes were expanded to six members each. the study demonstrated that the relations necessary for arbitrary class formation and expansion may be established without explicit training of each. The procedures permitted an analysis of six-member equivalence classes based on relations among elements of complex samples and their respective comparisons.
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