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The Behavior Analyst

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 51–75 | Cite as

An Analysis of Feedback from a Behavior Analytic Perspective

  • Kathleen A. MangiapanelloEmail author
  • Nancy S. Hemmes
Article

Abstract

The present paper presents a systematic analysis from a behavior analytic perspective of procedures termed feedback. Although feedback procedures are widely reported in the discipline of psychology, including in the field of behavior analysis, feedback is neither consistently defined nor analyzed. Feedback is frequently treated as a principle of behavior; however, its effects are rarely analyzed in terms of well-established principles of learning and behavior analysis. On the assumption that effectiveness of feedback procedures would be enhanced when their use is informed by these principles, we sought to provide a conceptually systematic account of feedback effects in terms of operant conditioning principles. In the first comprehensive review of this type, we compare feedback procedures with those of well-defined operant procedures. We also compare the functional relations that have been observed between parameters of consequence delivery and behavior under both feedback and operant procedures. The similarities observed in the preceding analyses suggest that processes revealed in operant conditioning procedures are sufficient to explain the phenomena observed in studies on feedback.

Keywords

Feedback Behavioral processes Operant conditioning Reinforcement Punishment Contingency 

Notes

Acknowledgment

We are grateful to Bruce Brown for his review of many earlier versions of this paper, as well as his feedback on the current version of this article. We also thank Claire Poulson for helping us to apply Gilbert Ryle’s epistemology to the problems raised in this paper. An earlier version of this manuscript benefited from critiques provided by students enrolled in a course on Scientific Writing and Inference offered by the CUNY PhD Program (Behavior Analysis Subprogram) in 2012.

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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen A. Mangiapanello
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Nancy S. Hemmes
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.The Graduate School, City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyQueens CollegeFlushingUSA

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