This paper reports two experiments that investigated the role of verbal behavior in the emergence and generalization of contextually controlled equivalence classes. During both experiments, participants were trained with two different combinations of the same easily nameable, yet formally unrelated, pictorial stimuli. Match-to-sample baselines for eight four-member classes were established under the contextual control of two colors. In the presence of one color, conditional relations were established between stimuli whose normative names rhymed. In the presence of the other color, conditional relations were established between stimuli whose normative names did not rhyme. Although, during Experiment 1, all participants demonstrated equivalence classes involving rhyming stimuli, none demonstrated the formation of nonrhyme equivalence classes. To investigate this finding, Experiment 2 evaluated whether participants would demonstrate both rhyme and nonrhyme equivalence classes given more extensive exposure to the experimental contingencies. All participants demonstrated contextually controlled rhyme and nonrhyme equivalence classes, although rhyme classes were demonstrated with greater facility than nonrhyme classes. Results indicate that visual stimuli are named, that verbal bases for stimulus classification can affect the emergence of contextually controlled equivalence classes, and that untrained contextually controlled conditional discriminations involving novel stimuli can emerge on the basis of participants’ verbal behavior
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