The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 161–165 | Cite as

A Contingency Interpretation of Place’s Contingency Anomaly in Ordinary Conversation

Article

Abstract

A verbal phenomenon often reported in the research literature of conversation analysis is reviewed. The phenomenon involves the observation that spoken sentences often receive consequences from listeners, and that the effect of these consequences appears to be variability in sentence emission, whereas the absence of such consequences appears to produce response persistence. If the speaker’s sentences function as units of verbal behavior and the listener’s responses function as reinforcers, the effect seems to run contrary to reinforcement contingency effects observed in the laboratory, where reinforcement produces response differentiation and extinction produces an increase in response variability and a decrease in the response class previously selected by reinforcement. An interpretation of the conversation phenomenon is presented, employing standard reinforcement contingencies for which the behavioral dynamics involved may be seen when speaker’s sequence of sentences is construed as a behavior chain.

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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyGonzaga UniversitySpokaneUSA

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