If stimulus equivalence is a model of meaning, abstract stimuli should acquire the meaning of meaningful stimuli equivalent to them. In Experiment 1, college students matched faces expressing emotions to arbitrary pictures, forming three classes of equivalent stimuli, each comprising an emotional expression and three arbitrary pictures. Semantic differential judgments by students who formed equivalence classes were similar to evaluations of the faces, and this similarity increased when delayed matching was used in training. Experiment 2 found that pictures distant 1-node from the faces were judged as similar to them and pictures distant 3-nodes were not. Therefore, abstract stimuli acquired functions of meaningful stimuli equivalent to them, but this depended on experimental parameters such as delayed matching and nodal distance.
Bortoloti, Renato and de Rose, Julio C.
"Assessment of the relatedness of equivalent stimuli through a semantic differential,"
The Psychological Record:
4, Article 5.
Available at: http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/tpr/vol59/iss4/5