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The Transfer of Meaning via Contextually Controlled Equivalence Relations

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Abstract

The present study aimed to evaluate the transfer of meaning in equivalence classes under contextual control. Adult participants were exposed to relational training and testing to establish equivalence relations between facial expressions of fear (A1) and happiness (A2) and nonsense stimuli (C1 and C2). The equivalence relations were under contextual control. Thus, in Context 1, C1 was equivalent to A1 (fear), and C2 was equivalent to A2 (happy); in Context 2, the relations between A and C stimuli were reversed (i.e., A1(fear) was equivalent to C2 and A2(happy) was equivalent to C1). The meaning of C1 and C2 stimuli under Context 1 and 2 were assessed using a semantic differential. As predicted, the meaning of C stimuli depended on the context in which they were presented and cohered with the equivalence relations established in those contexts. We conclude that the semantic differential is an instrument that captures context-dependent meaning (functions).

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Data Availability

Data and material concerning the current research can be found at Research Gate (http://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.23518.72008) or requested via email (will.f.perez@gmail.com).

Notes

  1. The adjectives in the scales were all in Portuguese. English translations are given in this article.

  2. Because results from participants that failed during equivalence tests cannot be readily interpreted in terms of derived transfer of stimulus functions, the participants that did not achieve mastery criteria in the previous phase were thanked and debriefed before the semantic differential.

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Funding

The present research was supported by means of 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 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 08/57705–8), both for Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia sobre Comportamento, Cognição e Ensino (INCT-ECCE), chaired by Deisy G. de Souza (UFSCar).

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Contributions

WFP: developing the research question, project, funding, data analysis, and preparation of the article; TSZ: data collection and data analysis; AHD: data collection and data analysis; ELV: data collection and data analysis; MAS: data collection and data analysis; NDPL: data collection and data analysis; RBMA: data collection and data analysis; RNMM: data collection and data analysis; JHA: data analysis and preparation of the article; JCR: project, funding, preparation of the article.

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Correspondence to William F. Perez.

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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).

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Perez, W.F., dos Santos Zuppani, T., Dorigon, A.H. et al. The Transfer of Meaning via Contextually Controlled Equivalence Relations. Psychol Rec 73, 587–592 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40732-023-00568-8

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