Verbal Stimulus Control and the Intraverbal Relation
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- Sundberg, M.L. Analysis Verbal Behav (2016) 32: 107. doi:10.1007/s40616-016-0065-3
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The importance of the intraverbal relation is missed in most theories of language. Skinner (1957) attributes this to traditional semantic theories of meaning that focus on the nonverbal referents of words and neglect verbal stimuli as separate sources of control for linguistic behavior. An analysis of verbal stimulus control is presented, along with its distinction from nonverbal stimulus control and motivational control. It is suggested that there are at least four different types of increasingly complex verbal discriminations relevant to speaker and listener behavior: simple, compound, verbal conditional, and verbal function-altering (Eikeseth & Smith, 2013; Schlinger & Blakely, 1994). Separate but interlocking accounts of how these specific types of verbal stimuli produce different evocative and function-altering effects for the speaker and for the listener are provided. Finally, the effects of weakening verbal stimulus control and the loss of intraverbal behavior are considered, especially as they relate to dementia, aphasia, and traumatic brain injury.