The emergence of combinations of behavior in an equivalence class without explicit training of a function

Mickey Keenan, Lucinda Stirrup, Nichola Booth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Three experiments using undergraduate participants examined the emergence of responding in an equivalence class despite the absence of any functions being explicitly trained to any stimulus within the class. In Experiment 1, a one-to-many conditional discrimination procedure was used to establish two three-member equivalence classes (A1, B1, C1 & A2, B2, C2) using nonsense syllables. Participants were then presented with printed versions of the stimuli inside plastic boxes alongside a box of Lego pieces and asked to respond as they felt appropriate. Results showed that Lego pieces were placed on top of the printed stimuli by four out of six participants; consistent class responding occurred for one participant. In Experiment 2, the procedure from Experiment 1 was replicated using the same participants, but this time two stimulus members (B1 & C1) were replaced by images of Blue and Green Lego pieces respectively. Responding within classes was more consistent across participants and there was some evidence of blended responding at A1. Experiment 3 replicated the procedure used in Experiment 2, this time with experimentally naive participants. Again, although no functions were explicitly trained, Lego pieces were placed on top of printed versions of the stimuli and blended responding reliably occurred for all participants at A1. Results are discussed in the context of procedures used to investigate the emergence of novel behavior. 
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-199
Number of pages23
JournalMexican Journal of Behavior Analysis
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Sociedad Mexicana de Analisis de la Conducta. All rights reserved.


  • Equivalence responding
  • Transfer of function
  • Rule following
  • Novel behavior
  • Combinations of behavior
  • Humans


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