Stimulus equivalence is a behavioral approach to the analysis of the "meaning" of stimulus sets. The formation of three-member (A-->B-->C) stimulus equivalence classes was used to investigate the effects of three different sets of sample and comparison stimuli on emergent behavior. The three stimulus sets were composed of sexually explicit words, sexually ambiguous words, and a third category of neutral words. Forty-one female and male subjects participated in a modified matching-to-sample experiment. Using a mixed crossover design, subjects received training and emergent relationship training in the three stimulus set conditions, controlling for serial order effects. Results revealed a significant interaction between the formation of stimulus equivalence classes and stimulus "meaning," indicative of consistently biased responding in favor of reaching criterion responding more slowly for the sexually explicit words. Results were examined in the context of an analysis of the importance of stimulus "meaning" on behavior, and the relation of stimulus "meaning" to behavioral and cognitive theories, with special appraisal given to the influence of sexually related discriminative stimuli on behavior.
Plaud, Joseph J.; Gaither, George A.; Franklin, Michael; Weller, Louise A.; and Barth, Jeannie
"The Effects of Sexually Explicit Words on the Formation of Stimulus Equivalence Classes,"
The Psychological Record: Vol. 48
, Article 5.
Available at: http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/tpr/vol48/iss1/5