Journal of Behavioral Education

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 123–149 | Cite as

Psychological and educational characteristics of instruction for people with severe disabilities: Interacting systems of responding

  • Thomas G. Haring
Tom Haring Memorial Issue: Part II


This paper presents a behavioral model which proposes that operants are organized and regulated into systems of responding. Multi-operant theory proposes that operants are organized into response systems that interact to adapt behavior to the complexities of the environment. The operant is the interaction between behavior and the environment which includes the conditions under which responses may occur, the class of behavior that is likely to be effective in producing outcomes, and the antecedent conditions that define the context of behavior. A central feature of this theory is that operants within a repertoire are organized into regulated systems of responding. The mechanisms of regulation are themselves operants that are learned and controlled by processes that are the same as those that govern more overt behavior. Operants stand in relationship to each other in coordinated response systems with some operants directly affecting and organizing the performance of other operants. An important implication of the systemic nature of behavioral repertoires is that bringing some aspect of a behavior class under control of new variables may demonstrate a spread throughout the entire operant system depending on past histories linking the classes.

Key words

behavior analysis multi-operant theory regulated systems of responding self-regulation 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas G. Haring
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EducationUniversity of CaliforniaSanta Barbara

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