15.36 Rule-Governed Behavior Example


But we don’t have to directly experience consequences or contingencies to behave effectively. Much of human behavior is based on rules we learn from others or create ourselves. Psychologists call this rule-governed behavior1. For example, our good friend Sally might avoid touching a red burner on a stove because someone told her she would get burned if she did. That is, she could have learned and followed a rule about touching red burners.

A cartoon girl displaying contingency-shaped behavior reacts with "yikes" to a painful burn while holding a pot.
Contingency-Shaped Behavior
A cartoon of a girl with a cup of coffee serving as an RFT1536 Rule-Governed Behavior Example.
Rule-Governed Behavior
  1. Hayes, S. C. (Ed). (1989). Rule-governed behavior: Cognition, contingencies, and instructional control. New York: Plenum Press.
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