The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 167–183 | Cite as

The Importance of Form in Skinner’s Analysis of Verbal Behavior and a Further Step

Conceptual Article

Abstract

A series of quotes from B. F. Skinner illustrates the importance of form in his analysis of verbal behavior. In that analysis, form plays an important part in contingency control. Form and function complement each other. Function, the array of variables that control a verbal utterance, dictates the meaning of a specified form; form, as stipulated by a verbal community, indicates that meaning. The mediational actions that shape verbal utterances do not necessarily encounter their controlling variables. These are inferred from the form of the verbal utterance. Form carries the burden of implied meaning and underscores the importance of the verbal community in the expression of all the forms of language. Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior and the importance of form within that analysis provides the foundation by which to investigate language. But a further step needs to be undertaken to examine and to explain the abstractions of language as an outcome of action at an aggregate level.

Key words

verbal behavior form function mediation language 

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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.B. F. Skinner FoundationUSA

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