The Behavior Analyst

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 139–145 | Cite as

The Psychological Present

  • Linda J. Hayes


The present paper compares behavior-analytic and cognitive treatments of the concept of psychological history with regard to its role in current action. Both treatments take the position that the past bears some responsibility for the present, and are thereby obligated to find a means of actualizing the past in the present. Both do so by arguing that the past is brought to bear in the present via the organism. Although the arguments of the two positions differ on this issue, neither provides a complete account. An unconventional treatment of psychological history is proposed, the logic of which is exemplified in anthropological, biological, and psychological perspectives. The unconventional treatment in psychological perspective holds that (a) the organism’s interaction with its environment, not the organism itself, changes with experience; and (b) the past interactions of an organism exist as, and only as, the present interactions of that organism. This solution to the problem of psychological history provides obligations and opportunities for analysis that are not available when the more conventional positions of cognitivism and behavior analysis are adopted.

Key words

psychological history history of reinforcement memory storage 


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda J. Hayes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of NevadaRenoUSA

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