The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 19–21 | Cite as

The Promotive: A Verbal Operant Related to Production

  • Jerome D. Ulman


The promotive, as a component of the contingency of production, is offered as a conceptual tool for analyzing verbal behavior involved in the production of useful things. The promotive is not simply a verbal operant multiply controlled by both mand and tact relations. The promotive is defined as a verbal operant in relation to its effect on productive behavior, behavior that produces useful products. Concomitantly, useful products are defined by the verbal community of consumers. So, ultimate reinforcement for promotive behavior resides in the consumer community’s demand for the product.

The promotive, however, is evoked by the more immediate controlling stimuli of the productive unit, a capable producer plus the necessary instruments of production, and the object of production, things that become transformed into useful products by the application of a productive unit. The presentation of an object of production thus has two stimulus functions: (a) as a discriminative stimulus for the act of procuring reinforcements from the consumer community, and (b) as an establishing (motivating) stimulus for promoting, not merely manding, productive behavior from the productive unit. In this chain of events, the productive unit itself becomes effective as conditioned reinforcement for the promoter.

Whether the promotive is a useful concept for the operant analysis of production will be decided on the basis of how well it helps us understand and deal with the behavioral phenomena involved in the production of any useful thing within any given culture. Much more work remains to be done at both the micro (individual) and macro (sociological) levels of analysis, however, before we will have available a complete conceptual framework for understanding productive relations within all modes of production.


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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerome D. Ulman
    • 1
  1. 1.Ball State UniversityMuncieUSA

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