Stimulus equivalence and attitudes

Ian M. Grey, Dermot Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Two studies examine the contribution of stimulus equivalence procedures to the study of attitude formation and attitude change. In Experiment 1, using a matching-to-sample procedure, subjects were trained to form three, three-member equivalence classes (A1, B1, C1; A2, B2, C2; A3, B3, C3) using nonsense syllables as stimuli. One member from two of these classes (B1 and B2) was placed on one of two video cassettes in the form of a label. Each video contained scenes of either a romantic or religious nature which subjects viewed. Subjects were then presented with four new videos. These videos were labeled with the remaining nonsense syllables that were used in the equivalence training (i.e., A1, C1, A2, C2). Subjects were then asked to categorize these unseen videos as "good" or "bad." This stage represented our attempt to investigate attitude formation to objects never directly experienced. In the next stage of the experiment which examined attitude change, subjects were exposed to a violent sexual video [which was labeled with one of the nonsense syllables from the remaining class (B3) from the equivalence training] and were again exposed to the categorization tasks outlined above. In the second experiment, contextual control through equivalence relations was incorporated into the procedure to investigate whether performance on the categorization tasks could be manipulated. Results from both experiments indicate that subjects' behavior was in accordance with the expected equivalence relations, and that a stimulus equivalence model of attitude formation and change has practical benefits for the study of attitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-270
Number of pages28
JournalPsychological Record
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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