Behavior and Social Issues

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 113–128 | Cite as

Stimulus Equivalence and Social Categorization in Northern Ireland

  • Attracta McGlinchey
  • Michael Keenan


Subjects of this study were Catholics and Protestants from Northern Ireland. They included six adults and thirty children; the children were aged between five years and twelve years. Using a mixture of arbitrary and socially loaded stimuli, subjects were taught four conditional discriminations. They were taught firstly to select stimulus BI (arbitrary stimulus) in the presence of A1 (Protestant stimulus) and to select stimulus B2 (arbitrary stimulus) in the presence of stimulus A2 (Catholic stimulus). They were trained then to select stimulus Cl (Catholic stimulus) in the presence of BI and to select stimulus C2 (Protestant stimulus) in the presence of B2. An equivalence test was administered subsequently to determine whether these Protestant and Catholic symbols had become related through symmetry and transitivity. Additional tests were administered using arbitrary and nonarbitrary novel stimuli to determine if socially learned relations would compete with the emergence of equivalence relations. Findings suggest that prior social learning can result in equivalence responding not occurring in the testing phase.

Key words

social behavior social categorization stimulus equivalence children Northern Ireland 


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Attracta McGlinchey
    • 1
  • Michael Keenan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Ulster at ColeraineColeraine, County LondonderryN. Ireland

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