A behavior analytic account of social categorizatio
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In the current article, social categorization was analyzed within the behavior analytic framework. Behavior analysis has been deemed unable to account for more complex behavior that seems to emerge without direct training. Furthermore, mentalistic explanations have been common in explaining this phenomenon. Conditional discrimination, motivational operations, verbal behavior, stimulus equivalence and the transfer of function are presented as behavior analytic approaches that can explain the complexity of social behavior in the real world. Some studies have shown that studying the process of stimulus equivalence in relevance to social categorization is more precise than studies that motivate mentalistic explanations. However, methodological errors were found in the study deemed as the foundation for behavior analytic research on social categorization. A systematic replication of Watt, Keenan, Barnes, and Cairns (1991) was conducted to investigate these methodological errors. The results of the experiment showed that social categorization interferes on the emergence of emergent relations. However, the results of interference were present in other units of measurement then of those in the study that were replicated. The study by Watt et al (1991) was therefore not found to be a valid test for social categorization, however the adaptions made to the study showed some promising results that should be investigated further.
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