Stimulus Equivalence In ABA: Definition & Examples

Stimulus equivalence shows how relationships can manifest among different types of stimuli in different situations.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
November 9th, 2022
2
min read

What Is Stimulus Equivalence?

Known as a concept under Applied Behavior Analysis, stimulus equivalence shows how relationships can manifest among different types of stimuli in different situations.

stimulus equivalence

Experts in the field that work in therapy sometimes find out programming for some types of instruction regarding characteristic targets, like a matching target. But newer, more unexpected responses usually spring forth without any assistance.

Clients in therapy can gain knowledge of the relationships between stimuli, develop classes of responses, then proceed to generalize info that was already trained before the situation. 

Three properties exist that give descriptions to such relations, with stimulus equivalence being regarded as being attained after a client completes all relations within it.

Stimulus equivalence is described with reflexivity, symmetry, relativity, and transitivity being shown. To detail, if A equals B and B equals C, the client can take from that as A equaling C.

To detail reflexivity, the concept appears to a client by having the option to pick a stimulus that matches them. This would mean that the client understands that A equals A.

For symmetry, the concept appears in a reversal of a relation that's taught to a student. For instance, it's when a child is taught that A equals B that they derive the relation that isn't trained independently. Therefore, B equals A.

Transitivity is a reference to a client reducing untrained relationships on their own, such as the conclusion that A equals C and C equals after they're told that A equals B and B equals C.

Examples of stimulus equivalence

A client in therapy is being taught that A equals B and B equals C. Other relationships that aren't known by the client can derive from B equals B, C equals B, A equals C, and C equals A.

steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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