Some Clinical Implications of Rule-Governed Behavior

  • Roger L. Poppen


It is not difficult to be a behaviorist in accounting for “normal” behavior. Men and women normally perform daily tasks that earn a livelihood, maintain health, and sustain social relationships. The controlling influences of salary, nutrition, and attention are apparent and require little psychological interpretation. “Abnormal” behavior that is not closely related to prevailing contingencies presents a puzzle. Why do some intelligent, capable people engage in behavior that results in loss of livelihood, health, and relationships? Clinicians for years have struggled to explain and treat this “neurotic paradox” (Mowrer, 1948). Two general strategies have developed, one focusing on environmental events in a person’s history, and the other on various internal states that are a product of those experiences. Behavior therapy has accommodated both points of view in a sometimes uneasy alliance.


Verbal Behavior Discriminative Stimulus Verbal Community Irrational Belief Apply Behavior Analysis 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger L. Poppen
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavior Analysis and Therapy Program, Rehabilitation InstituteSouthern Illinois UniversityCarbondaleUSA

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