Introductory Concepts
Elementary Relationships
Extensions of Verbal Behavior
Multiple Controlling Relationships
Building on the Elementary Relationships

21.5 Definition of Verbal Behavior

The analysis for the other forms is similar. The key point to remember is that Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior is not based upon the type of behavior involved, but rather upon the type of reinforcement for that behavior—mediated reinforcement. ASL has often been regarded by individuals with a traditional approach to language as less than a complete system of verbal behavior. To a great extent, this is because language has been defined by analyzing the characteristics of vocal language systems such as English. Skinner’s analysis does not depend upon the type of response, but rather on an analysis of the relationship between certain types of controlling variables and responses in any form. When analyzed in this way, both English and ASL are complete systems of verbal behavior.

Verbal Behavior

Behavior that has the following features:

It is established and maintained by reinforcement

The reinforcement is mediated by another person

The other person’s action that results in reinforcement must have been specifically trained in order to reinforce speakers

The topography of the behavior: which muscles are used in making the response

Dynamic characteristics of the response: speed, intensity, repetition

Verbal or non-verbal stimulus

Stimulus mode: auditory, visual, etc.

Reinforcement features

Post a comment
This section is for the civil and public discussion of the content of this page. We reserve the right to moderate and remove comments that are irrelevant, disrespectful, hateful, harassing, threatening, or spamlike. If you are experiencing a technical issue, please contact our helpdesk for assistance.

Leave a Comment