Overtraining increases the strength of equivalence relations


Psychol. Neurosci.




The present study investigated whether overtraining of the conditional discriminations that are the prerequisites of equivalence class formation strengthens the relations among stimuli in an equivalence class. Two groups of college students formed equivalence classes that consisted of faces that expressed emotions (A) and arbitrary stimuli (B, C, D, and E). The overtraining group had twice as many training trials as the regular training group. For participants who formed equivalence classes, relational strength was evaluated by the generalization of expressed emotions from the A to the D stimuli, which was measured using a semantic differential. An untrained control group showed semantic differential scores that were positive for happy faces, negative for angry faces, and neutral for the D stimuli. For the experimental groups, the D stimuli, when included in equivalence classes, produced scores that were similar to those produced by the equivalent faces. The overtraining group, however, had average values closer to the values of the faces than the regular training group. These results indicate that the amount of training is an experimental parameter that influences the strength of relations between stimuli that are found to be equivalent in matching-to-sample tests.

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