The Behavior Analyst

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 31–41 | Cite as

Social Behavior as Discriminative Stimulus and Consequence in Social Anthropology

  • Bernard Guerin


A behavior analysis is provided for three topics in social anthropology. Food, social relations, and ritual behaviors can enter into contingencies both as functional consequences and as discriminative stimuli for the reinforcement of behaviors through generalized social consequences. Many “symbolic” behaviors, which some social anthropologists believe go beyond an individual material basis, are analyzed as the latter. It is shown how the development of self-regulation to bridge remote consequences can undermine a group’s generalized social control. It is also shown that rituals and taboos can be utilized to maintain generalized social compliance, which in turn can maintain both the community’s verbal behavior and other group behaviors that bridge indirect and remote consequences.

Key words

social behavior verbal behavior self-regulation symbolic behavior social anthropology generalized social consequences 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barrett, R. A. (1984). Culture and conduct: An excursion in anthropology. Belmont, CA: Wads-worth.Google Scholar
  2. Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1967). The social construction of reality. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin.Google Scholar
  3. Biglan, A., Glasgow, R. E., & Singer, G. (1990). The need for a science of larger social units: A contextual approach. Behavior Therapy, 21, 195–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blau, P. (1964). Exchange and power in social life. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  5. Buskist, W., & Degrandpre, R. J. (1989). The myth of rule-governed behavior. Experimental Analysis of Human Behavior Bulletin, 7, 4–6.Google Scholar
  6. Douglas, M. (1966). Purity and danger. New York: Praeger.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Douglas, M. (1970). Natural symbols. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin.Google Scholar
  8. Douglas, M. (1980). Evans-Pritchard. London: Fontana.Google Scholar
  9. Durkheim, E. (1914). The elementary forms of religious life. London: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  10. Evans-Pritchard, E. E. (1940). The Nuer. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  11. Evans-Pritchard, E. E. (1951). Kinship and marriage among the Nuer. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  12. Evans-Pritchard, E. E. (1976). Witchcraft, oracles, and magic among the Azande. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  13. Farr, R. M., & Moscovici, S. (Eds.). (1984). Social representations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Friedman, J. (1974). Marxism, structuralism and vulgar materialism. Man (n.s.), 9, 444–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gergen, K. J., & Davis, K. E. (Eds.). (1985). The social construction of the person. New York: Springer Verlag.Google Scholar
  16. Glenn, S. S. (1988). Contingencies and metacon-tingencies: Toward a synthesis of behavior analysis and cultural materialism. The Behavior Analyst, 11, 161–180.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Glenn, S. S. (1989). Verbal behavior and cultural practices. Behavior Analysis and Social Action, 7, 10–15.Google Scholar
  18. Gluckman, M. (1956). Custom and conflict in Africa. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  19. Guerin, B. (1991). Anticipating the consequences of social behavior. Current Psychology: Research and Reviews, 10, 131–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Harris, M. (1974). Cows, pigs, wars & witches: The riddles of culture. Glasgow: Fontana.Google Scholar
  21. Harris, M. (1979). Cultural materialism. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  22. Harris, M. (1980). Historical and ideological significance of the separation of social and cultural anthropology. In E. B. Ross (Ed.), Beyond the myths of culture: Essays in cultural materialism (pp. 391–407). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  23. Hayes, S. C. (1989a). Nonhumans have not yet shown stimulus equivalence. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 51, 385–392.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  24. Hayes, S. C. (Ed.). (1989b). Rule-governed behavior: Cognition, contingencies, and instructional control. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  25. Hayes, S. C., & Hayes, L. J. (1989). The verbal action of the listener as a basis for rule-governance. In S. C. Hayes (Ed.), Rule-governed behavior: Cognition, contingencies, and instructional control (pp. 153–190). New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hyten, C., & Burns, R. (1986). Social relations and social behavior. In H. W. Reese & L. J. Parrott (Eds.), Behavior science: Philosophical, methodological, and empirical advances (pp. 163–183). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  27. Keesing, R. M. (1981). Cultural anthropology: A contemporary perspective (2nd ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Google Scholar
  28. Lee, R. B., & DeVore, I. (Eds.). (1968). Man the hunter. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  29. Lee, V. L. (1984). Some notes on the subject matter of Skinner’s Verbal behavior (1957). Behaviorism, 12, 29–40.Google Scholar
  30. Levi-Strauss, G (1963). The bear and the barber. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 43, 1–11.Google Scholar
  31. Lloyd, K. E. (1985). Behavioral anthropology: A review of Marvin Harris’ Cultural materialism. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 43, 279–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Malagodi, E. F., & Jackson, K. (1989). Behavior analysts and cultural analysis: Troubles and issues. The Behavior Analyst, 12, 17–33.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  33. Malott, R. W. (1988). Rule-governed behavior and behavioral anthropology. The Behavior Analyst, 11, 181–204.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. Mauss, M. (1966). The gift. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  35. Mead, G. H. (1922). A behavioristic account of the significant symbol. Journal of Philosophy, 19, 157–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Milgram, S., Bickman, L., & Berkowitz, L. (1969). Note on the drawing power of crowds of different sizes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 13, 79–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Moscovici, S. (1982). The coming era of representation. In J.-P. Codol & J. P. Levens (Eds.), Cognitive analyses of social behavior (pp. 115–150). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Parrott, L. J. (1986). On the differences between verbal and social behavior. In P. N. Chase & L. J. Parrott (Eds.), Psychological aspects of language (pp. 91–117). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.Google Scholar
  39. Rappaport, R. A. (1984). Pigs for the ancestors. London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Riegler, H. C., & Baer, D. M. (1989). A developmental analysis of rule-following. In H. W. Reese (Ed.), Advances in child development and behavior (Vol. 21, pp. 191–219). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  41. Ross, E. B. (Ed.). (1980). Beyond the myths of culture: Essays in cultural materialism. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  42. Sahlins, M. (1972). Stone age economics. London: Tavistock.Google Scholar
  43. Schwimmer, E. (1973). Exchange in the social structure of the Orokaiva. London: C. Hurst.Google Scholar
  44. Sidman, M. (1986). Functional analyses of emergent verbal classes. In T. Thompson & M. D. Zeiler (Eds.), Analysis and integration of behavioral units (pp. 213–245). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  45. Skinner, B.F. (1957). Verbal behavior. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Steiner, F. (1956). Taboo. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin.Google Scholar
  47. Stryker, S., & Statham, A. (1985). Symbolic interaction and role theory. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology, Vol. I. Theory and methods (pp. 311–378). New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  48. Vargas, E. A. (1985). Cultural contingencies; A review of Marvin Harris’ Cannibals and kings. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 43, 419–428.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernard Guerin
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of PsychologyUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations