The Behavior Analyst

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 189–196 | Cite as

Reinforcement in the Sixteenth Century: Was the Bard a Behaviorist?

  • James D. Dougan


Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew is described in terms of behavior analysis. Changes in the behavior of the character Kate result from her husband Petruchio’s manipulation of environmental contingencies. Aspects of behavior analysis found in the play include the identification of target behavior, the establishment of events as reinforcers, the arrangement of contingencies between responses and reinforcers, and the assessment of post-intervention responding. Several aspects of Shakespeare’s description are related to current issues in behavior analysis bearing on theory, cultural practices, and public relations.

Key words

Literary Analysis Applied Behavior Analysis Verbal Behavior Shakespeare 


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • James D. Dougan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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