The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 61–80 | Cite as

Quantified trends in the history of verbal behavior research

  • John W. Eshleman
Article

Abstract

The history of scientific research about verbal behavior research, especially that based on Verbal Behavior (Skinner, 1957), can be assessed on the basis of a frequency and celeration analysis of the published and presented literature. In order to discover these quantified trends, a comprehensive bibliographical database was developed. Based on several literature searches, the bibliographic database included papers pertaining to verbal behavior that were published in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Behaviorism, The Behavior Analyst, and The Analysis of Verbal Behavior. A nonbehavioral journal, the Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior was assessed as a nonexample comparison. The bibliographic database also included a listing of verbal behavior papers presented at the meetings of the Association for Behavior Analysis. Papers were added to the database if they (a) were about verbal behavior, (b) referenced B.F. Skinner’s (1957) book Verbal Behavior, or (c) did both. Because the references indicated the year of publication or presentation, a count per year of them was measured. These yearly frequencies were plotted on Standard Celeration Charts. Once plotted, various celeration trends in the literature became visible, not the least of which was the greater quantity of verbal behavior research than is generally acknowledged. The data clearly show an acceleration of research across the past decade. The data also question the notion that a “paucity” of research based on Verbal Behavior currently exists. Explanations of the acceleration of verbal behavior research are suggested, and plausible reasons are offered as to why a relative lack of verbal behavior research extended through the mid 1960s to the latter 1970s.

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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • John W. Eshleman
    • 1
  1. 1.The Ohio State UniversityDublinUSA

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