Behavior and Social Issues

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 71–81 | Cite as

The Pursuit of Actual Problem-Solving Behavior: An Opportunity for Behavior Analysis

  • Richard M. Foxx
  • Gerald D. Faw


The generalization of trained verbal problem-solving skills to overt performance has been difficult to demonstrate and assess (Tisdelle & St. Lawrence, 1986). The few studies that have attempted to assess actual problem-solving behavior have used analogues or simulation situations. The most commonly used problem-solving training model was developed by D’Zurilla and Goldfried (1971). The model appears to have face validity because it is based on the process used by “normal” individuals when they attempt to solve complex, difficult, or unique situations. However, there are no systematic evaluations documenting the effectiveness of the model with the types of populations and problems it was initially designed to treat. In fact, it has been suggested that there is little empirical data supporting the widespread application of this model for solving problems (Tisdelle & St. Lawrence, 1986). Our paper discusses these issues and suggests some future directions in the assessment, training, and conceptualization of problem solving. In the process, we discuss generalization issues as they relate to actual problem-solving performance and offer suggestions for studying the motivational aspects of the problem-solving process.

Key words

problem solving verbal behavior generalization skills development verbal vs. actual behavior 


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Copyright information

© Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard M. Foxx
    • 1
  • Gerald D. Faw
    • 2
  1. 1.Penn State HarrisburgMiddletownUSA
  2. 2.Center for Comprehensive ServicesUSA

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