Behavior and Social Issues

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 141–163 | Cite as

Verbal Operants of Corruption: A Study of Avoidance in Corruption Behavior

  • Tete Kobla AgbotaEmail author
  • Ingunn Sandaker
  • Gunnar Ree


Corruption is illegal and universally shameful. Persons who engage in corrupt practices tend to be discreet. This study offers an analysis of metaphors in corruption language based on positive and avoidance contingencies of reinforcement. Our data show that parties to corrupt practices use expressions that accentuate this discreet behavior, whether demanding or offering bribes. Our findings indicate that corruption language can be topographically similar to other verbal utterances, but functionally different when understood in context. Both officials and clients use metaphors to avoid prosecution and social embarrassment. The verbal behavior of the public servant is positively reinforced because he gets a bribe, and the verbal behavior of the client is positively reinforced because he/she receives service or favorable answer to application promptly. However, the payment of money denotes punishment.


avoidance corruption Ghana corruption metaphors disguised mands positive reinforcement 


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Copyright information

© Tete Kobla Agbota, Ingunn Sandaker, & Gunnar Ree 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tete Kobla Agbota
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ingunn Sandaker
    • 1
  • Gunnar Ree
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Behavioral ScienceOslo and Akershus University College of Applied SciencesOsloNorway

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