Skip to main content

Implicit and Explicit Measures of Transformation of Function from Facial Expressions of Fear and of Happiness via Equivalence Relations

Abstract

Studies on equivalence relations have suggested that abstract symbols might acquire emotional functions when related to facial expressions. The present study aimed to investigate the transformation of emotional functions from facial expressions of fear and of happiness to abstract stimuli via equivalence relations. A delayed matching-to-sample task established two equivalence classes between facial expressions of emotions and nonsense abstract stimuli: A1(Fear)-B1-C1-D1; A2(Happiness)-B2-C2-D2. After relational training (AB, AC, CD) and equivalence tests (BD, DB), the participants evaluated the meaning of one nonsense stimulus from each class (D1 and D2) by means of a semantic differential and an Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP). Results from both the semantic differential and the IRAP supported the conclusion that the emotional functions of the faces, in terms of fear and happiness, had transformed via the equivalence classes to the D stimuli. Results are discussed in terms of the dynamics of arbitrarily applicable relational responding.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Notes

  1. Recent research has indicated that the IRAP as a context for assessing biases in patterns of arbitrarily applicable relational responding is more complex than originally proposed (e.g., Barnes-Holmes, Finn, Barnes-Holmes, & McEnteggart, 2018; Finn, Barnes-Holmes, McEnteggart, 2018). One of the reviewers of the current article suggested that such findings highlighted a potential methodological flaw in the IRAP. We would argue that methodological flaws in any procedure or measure need to be defined in terms of conceptual or analytic assumptions, which were not specified in the review. We shall, however, consider a specific effect in the Discussion section that emerged in the current study that appears directly relevant to the material presented by Barnes-Holmes, Finn, et al. (2018) and Finn et al. (2018).

  2. The reader should note that the purpose of the current study was to examine the transformation of positively and negatively valenced functions based on fearful and happy faces rather than “fear” and “happy” functions specifically. That is, the words employed in the semantic differential scales and the IRAP were generally positive and negative (“good” versus “bad”) rather than related only to fear and happiness.

  3. The DIRAP score is the most widely used effect size measure employed with the IRAP and for this reason it was used in the present study, because it allows for relatively direct comparisons between the current findings and previously published IRAP studies. It should be recognized, however, that alternative effect-size measures may be used with the IRAP (see De Schryver, Hussey, De Neve, Cartwright, & Barnes-Holmes, 2018, for a recent example and detailed discussion of effect-size measures).

  4. The reader should note that this level of attrition in participants failing to pass an equivalence test is consistent with previous research, particularly when only a single exposure to the equivalence test is provided, as was the case here.

References

Download references

Acknowledgements

The present research was supported by means of a research funding from the São Paulo Research Foundation on behalf of William F. Perez (FAPESP 2016/05935-6). The second author was supported by a post-doc fellowship from the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP 2014/01874-7 and 2017/10037-0). Preparation of the manuscript was supported by the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq, Grants 573972/2008-7 and 465686/2014-1) and the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP, Grant 2008/57705-8), both for Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia sobre Comportamento, Cognição e Ensino (INCT-ECCE), chaired by Deisy G. de Souza (UFSCar).

Funding

The present research was supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP 2014/01874-7, 2016/05935-6, 2017/10037-0, 2008/57705-8) and by the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq, Grants 573972/2008-7 and 465686/2014-1); the present study is also part of the research program of the Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia sobre Comportamento, Cognição e Ensino (INCT-ECCE).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to William F. Perez.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The research is approved by the Brazilian platform for ethical committees (Plataforma Brasil, CAAE # 54489116.4.0000.5504).

Informed Consent

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

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Perez, W.F., de Almeida, J.H., de Rose, J.C. et al. Implicit and Explicit Measures of Transformation of Function from Facial Expressions of Fear and of Happiness via Equivalence Relations. Psychol Rec 69, 13–24 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40732-018-0304-1

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40732-018-0304-1

Keywords

  • Equivalence relations
  • Transformation of function
  • Semantic differential
  • IRAP
  • Facial expression