Stimulus equivalence and language development in children

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jeanne Marie Devany (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Rosemery Nelson

Abstract: The stimulus equivalence paradigm offers behavior analysis an approach to the study of semantics. To date, however, no studies of the relationships between language development and stimulus equivalence have been done. Three groups of children, matched for mental age, were studied. One group consisted of normally developing preschoolers, the second consisted of retarded children who used speech spontaneously and appropriately, and the third consisted of retarded children who did not use speech or signs for communication. All children were taught a series of four conditional discriminations and then were tested to determine if classes of equivalent stimuli had formed. All of the language-able children (retarded and normal) formed equivalence classes while none of the language-disabled children did so. Follow-up analyses suggested that the failure to form equivalence classes was due to a failure to demonstrate symmetry in the trained conditional relations, although the possibility that the language-disabled children failed to learn the conditional nature of the training tasks could not be ruled out. The results support the view that the ability to form equivalence classes and language development are related; the nature of the relationship has not been specified through the present research.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1985
Language acquisition $x Research

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