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The Verbal Action of the Listener as a Basis for Rule-Governance

  • Steven C. Hayes
  • Linda J. Hayes

Abstract

In the traditional behavior-analytic account, most psychologically significant behavior (i.e., that of whole organisms in and with a context) is thought ultimately to be contingency shaped. An important subset of this behavior is rule-governed (Skinner, 1966, 1969, Chapter 6). Skinner (1969, p. 146) provides a worthwhile example. An outfielder moves to catch a ball. Following its trajectory, he moves under it and grasps it with his glove. Skinner views this event as contingency shaped. The outfielder is simply responding, as he has done hundreds of times before, based on the effects his behavior has on moving toward the ball. Skinner contrasts this with the ship captain moving to “catch” a descending satellite. The trajectory of the satellite is analyzed in detail. Mathematical models are consulted that take into account a host of factors such as wind speed and drag coefficients. Its place of impact is predicted and approached. This behavior is not controlled directly by the past consequences of the captain trying to catch satellites. The behavior has not had an opportunity to be shaped by such consequences—it is controlled by rules.

Keywords

Verbal Behavior Verbal Action Conditional Discrimination Verbal Stimulus Behavior Analyst 
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

  • Steven C. Hayes
    • 1
  • Linda J. Hayes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Nevada-RenoRenoUSA

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