The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 75–91 | Cite as

Memory as Behavior: The Importance of Acquisition and Remembering Strategies



The study of memory has traditionally been the province of cognitive psychology, which has postulated different memory systems that store memory traces to explain remembering. Behavioral psychologists have been unsuccessful at empirically identifying the behavior that occurs during remembering because so much of it occurs rapidly and covertly. In addition, behavior analysts have generally been disinterested in studying transient phenomena such as memory. As a result, the cognitive interpretation has been the only one that has made and tested useful predictions. Recent experimental evidence acquired while having participants “think aloud” suggests that a behavioral approach to memory may provide a superior account of memory performance and allow applied scientists to observe and modify memory-related behavior with well-known applied behavior-analytic techniques. We review evidence supporting and extending the interpretation of memory provided by Palmer (1991), who described memory in terms of precurrent behavior that occurs at the time of acquisition in preparation for problem solving that occurs at the time of remembering.


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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.Western Michigan UniversityUSA

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