The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 11–18 | Cite as

Teaching Verbal Behavior to Pigeons

  • Mark L. Sundberg


Pigeons were taught simple analogs of verbal behavior by replicating and extending the procedures presented by Michael, Whitley, and Hesse (1983). A student lab, connected to a course on the experimental analysis of behavior, was used to teach both the students and the pigeons new behavioral repertoires. Most of the 18 birds learned a simple stimulus-selection-based tact, as well as 2–3 topography-based tacts. Several pigeons learned to mand for reinforcers, and a few acquired some simple intraverbal responses. The student’s learned the basic features of Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior, as well as several laboratory skills. Further work in this area is encouraged due to its potential contributions to the experimental analysis of verbal behavior, and to teaching language to the developmentally disabled, and other speech and language impaired individuals.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Braam S. E., & Poling A. (1984). Development of intraverbal behavior in mentally retarded individuals through transfer of stimulus control procedures. Applied Research in Mental Retardation, 4, 297–302.Google Scholar
  2. Boe, R., & Winokur, S. (1978). A procedure for studying echoic control in verbal behavior. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 30, 213–217.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Buskist, W. F., & Miller, H. L. Jr. (1982). The analysis of human operant behavior: A brief census of the literature: 1958–1981. The Behavior Analyst, 5, 137–141.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Hake, D. F. (1982). The basic-applied continuum and the possible evolution of human operant social and verbal research. The Behavior Analyst, 5, 21–28.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Halle, J. W., Baer, D. M., & Spradlin, J.E. (1981). Teachers’ general use of delay as a stimulus control procedure to increase language use in handicapped children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 14, 389–409.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Lamarre, J., & Holland, J. G. (1985). The functional independence of mands and tacts. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 43, 3–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Lee, V. L. (1981). Prepositional phrases spoken and heard. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 35, 227–242.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Lee, V. L., & Pegler, A. M. (1982). Effects on spelling of training children to read. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 37, 311–322.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. McDoungh, J., & Sundberg, M. L. (1984, May). Teaching mands, tacts, and intraverbals to pigeons. Paper presented at the Tenth Annual Association for Behavior Analysis Convention, Nashville, TN.Google Scholar
  10. McPherson, A., Bonem, M., Green, G., & Osborne, J. G. (1984). A citation analysis of the influence of research on Skinner’s Verbal behavior, The Behavior Analyst, 7, 157–167.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Michael, J. L. (1982). Distinguishing between discriminative and motivational functions of stimuli. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 37, 149–155.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. Michael, J. L. (1984). Verbal behavior. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 42, 363–376.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. Michael, J.L. (1985). Two kinds of verbal behavior plus a possible third. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 3, 1–4.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Michael, J. L., Whitley, P., & Hesse, B.(1983). The pigeon parlance project. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 2, 5–8.Google Scholar
  15. Savage-Rumbaugh, E. S. (1984). Verbal behavior at the procedural level in the chimpanzee. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 41, 223–250.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Skinner, B. F. (1957). Verbal behavior. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Skinner, B. F. (1969). Contingencies of reinforcement. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  18. Skinner, B. F. (1974). About behaviorism. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  19. Skinner, B. F. (1978). Reflections on behaviorism and society. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  20. Sundberg, M. L. (1980). Developing a verbal repertoire using sign language and Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Western Michigan University.Google Scholar
  21. Winfrey, R. W. (1984). Topography-based analogs of verbal behavior in pigeons. Unpublished manuscript, California State University, Stanislaus.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark L. Sundberg
    • 1
  1. 1.California State University, StanislausBakersfieldUSA

Personalised recommendations