The Behavior Analyst

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 175–190 | Cite as

Mentalism, Behavior-Behavior Relations, and a Behavior-Analytic View of the Purposes of Science

  • Steven C. Hayes
  • Aaron J. Brownstein


In a behavioral view, the purposes of science are primarily prediction and control. To the extent that a scientist embraces both of these as a unified and generally applicable criterion for science, certain philosophical and theoretical practices are counterproductive, including mentalism in both its metaphysical and metatheoretical forms. It is possible and often worthwhile to recast some mentalistic talk into an issue of behavior-behavior relations. When behavior-behavior relations are approached non-mechanistically, however, analysis cannot stop at the level of the relations themselves. Several analytic concepts common in the behavioral community share some of the dangers of mentalism if not employed properly, including such concepts as self-reinforcement, response-produced stimulation, and self-rules.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven C. Hayes
    • 1
  • Aaron J. Brownstein
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Nevada-RenoRenoUSA
  2. 2.University of North CarolinaGreensboroUSA

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