|An Introduction to Verbal Behavior was written by Dr. Norman Peterson, the Director of Operations at the Foundation for Behavioral Resources. Dr. Peterson holds Ph.D. in Psychology from Western Michigan University, where he was one of the first graduates of that department’s doctoral program in Behavior Analysis. Prior to his work at the Foundation, Dr. Peterson also served as a faculty member at Western Michigan University and as a senior HR Consultant at Consumers Energy.
Target Audience and Difficulty Level
This tutorial is of an intermediate level of difficulty, but was written and designed for a broad audience. It is hoped that anyone from undergraduate students in psychology and related disciplines to doctoral-level psychologists, behavior analysts, and scholars will find the material accessible, engaging, and relevant.
Upon completing this tutorial you should be able to:
- Identify definitions and examples of key theoretical concepts in Skinner’s analysis of human language (including verbal behavior, verbal stimulation, thematic and formal control, tact,
mand, echoic, intraverbal, textual, taking dictation, audience control, types of extension, multiple causation, secondary verbal behavior, and autoclitic mands and tacts)
- Distinguish between formal and thematic control of verbal behavior
- Classify examples of the different ways verbal operants can be extended
- Specify the different ways we learn to respond to private stimulation
- Analyze samples of natural language using the terms and concepts of Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior
This tutorial has many pleasing features, including:
- Full audio narration throughout (with learner control over volume, replaying, and the showing of corresponding text)
- Extensive use of graphics, animations, and interactions to illustrate complex concepts and processes
- Self-paced, so every learner can take as long as he or she needs to learn the material
- Ability to save progress at any point during the tutorial (and return to that point later, so program does not need to be completed in one sitting)
- Progress in lesson and tutorial clearly indicated by progress bar, screen numbers, and lesson numbers
- Instructors can easily make the tutorial an assignment or extra-credit project for their course, training program, or workshop, and then track the progress and performance of their students
- A comprehensive quiz is offered, and learners can take it an unlimited number of times (instructors can see each student’s first quiz score, highest quiz score, and number of quiz attempts)
Prerequisite Knowledge Required
Since the tutorial was designed for a broad audience, very little prerequisite knowledge is expected or required. Familiarity with basic principles of learning and conditioning is assumed, though these are also addressed briefly early in the tutorial.
The tutorial consists of 47 lessons and a total of 665 screens of instructional excitement. The length of time it takes people to complete the tutorial varies widely, but many experts in the elearning industry estimate that one should expect to spend about 1 minute per screen. Research on early version of this tutorial’s format, though, indicated that 30 seconds per screen is more accurate (but still with a great deal of variability!). Although the tutorial is long, it does not need to be completed in one sitting; users can save their progress at any time and return to where they left off later.
The tutorial requires only an active internet connection (you must be connected to the internet throughout the program so that your progress can be saved), a web browser, and the Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or later). You probably already have the Flash Player installed, but if you don’t it can be downloaded for free
. You can also use our custom Browser Check
to see if your browser meets our minimum requirements.
Accuracy, Utility, and Risks
The content of this tutorial should be considered quite accurate, as it was written by an expert in the field and reviewed for accuracy by a number of other experts, including Dr. Richard Malott, Dr. Jack Michael, Dr. Linda Parott Hayes, and Greg Stikeleather. This tutorial should benefit any psychologist, behavior analyst, student, or behavioral science professional who would like to have a conceptual framework for analyzing human language that is more functional than the structural analyses of traditional linguistics or cognitive psychology. It will be particularly beneficial to those working to establish verbal repertoires with children or adults who have language delays. This tutorial will not provide you with training in specific interventions or methods based on Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior, but it will provide you with a conceptual understanding of the theoretical basis of such interventions and methods. There is little to no risk associated with completing this tutorial, aside from the physical risks associated with any computer work (e.g., repetitive stress injuries and eyestrain) and possibly boredom.
This tutorial is based on a programmed textbook that was initially written as part of the author’s dissertation research at Western Michigan University and originally published in 1978. It was launched as an online tutorial on FoxyLearning on May 28, 2010.