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Rule-Governed Behavior in Behavior Analysis

A Theoretical and Experimental History
  • Margaret Vaughan

Abstract

The field of behavior analysis,1 committed to a basic science of human behavior, has never had an easy time of it. Two different but related criticisms have plagued the field. First, it has been argued that the rich workings of mental life stand in the way of a science attempting to explain all human behavior in terms of physical laws. This presumed paradox has led various philosophers, psychologists, educators, and layman to assert that there can never be such a science. Nonetheless, there were those who, resisting such a proposition, proceeded to demonstrate powerful functional relations between behavior and environmental events (e.g., Azrin & Holz, 1966; Ferster & Skinner, 1957; Skinner, 1938). Within the last 75 years, a science of human behavior has emerged, and it appears that what has been traditionally called mental life is subject to the same laws that govern observable behavior. Unfortunately, for most of those 75 years, behavior analysts could only speculate as to whether a relation existed between simple responses observed in the laboratory and more elaborate sequences of human behavior found in daily life.

Keywords

Experimental Analysis Verbal Behavior Discriminative Stimulus Behavior Analysis Experimental History 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret Vaughan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologySalem State CollegeSalemUSA

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