The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 111–128 | Cite as

Dialogue on Private Events

  • David C. Palmer
  • John Eshleman
  • Paul Brandon
  • T. V. Joe Layng
  • Christopher McDonough
  • Jack Michael
  • Ted Schoneberger
  • Nathan Stemmer
  • Ray Weitzman
  • Matthew Normand


In the fall of 2003, the authors corresponded on the topic of private events on the listserv of the Verbal Behavior Special Interest Group. Extracts from that correspondence raised questions about the role of response amplitude in determining units of analysis, whether private events can be investigated directly, and whether covert behavior differs from other behavior except in amplitude. Most participants took a cautious stance, noting not only conceptual pitfalls and empirical difficulties in the study of private events, but doubting the value of interpretive exercises about them. Others argued that despite such obstacles, in domains where experimental analyses cannot be done, interpretation of private events in the light of laboratory principles is the best that science can offer. One participant suggested that the notion that private events can be behavioral in nature be abandoned entirely; as an alternative, the phenomena should be reinterpreted only as physiological events.


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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • David C. Palmer
    • 1
  • John Eshleman
    • 2
  • Paul Brandon
    • 3
  • T. V. Joe Layng
    • 4
  • Christopher McDonough
    • 5
  • Jack Michael
    • 6
  • Ted Schoneberger
    • 7
  • Nathan Stemmer
    • 8
  • Ray Weitzman
    • 9
  • Matthew Normand
    • 10
  1. 1.Department of PsychologySmith CollegeNorthamptonUSA
  2. 2.APEX ConsultingUSA
  3. 3.Minnesota State UniversityUSA
  4. 4.Headsprout, Inc.USA
  5. 5.Hawthorne Country Day SchoolUSA
  6. 6.Western Michigan UniversityUSA
  7. 7.California State University: StanislausUSA
  8. 8.Bar-Han UniversityUSA
  9. 9.California State University: FresnoUSA
  10. 10.Florida Institute of TechnologyUSA

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