Verbal Behavior

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Copley, May 1, 1991 - Psychology - 478 pages
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This book, which Skinner often call his most important work, extends the laboratory-based principles of selection by consequences to account for what people say, write, gesture, and think. Skinner argues that verbal behavior requires a separate analysis because it does not operate on the environment directly, but rather through the behavior of other peoples in a verbal community. He illustrates his thesis with examples from literature, the arts, and the sciences, as well as from his own verbal behavior and that of his colleagues and children.

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Not a book for the beginner: one should start with Skinner's Science and Human Behavior to prepare for this tome.
This is an outline of how a Radical Behaviorist can study Verbal Behavior as behavior
, not with the traditional linguistic or cognitive approach.
Many, including psychologists & linguists, are more familiar with Noam Chomsky's review than the book itself. Unfortunately, that has turned many away from actually reading the book itself. Those who have read the book and Chomsky's review often wonder what book Chomsky read.


Controlling Variables
Verbal Behavior Under the Control of Verbal Stimuli

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About the author (1991)

B. F. Skinner, an American behavioral psychologist, is known for his many contributions to learning theory. His Behavior of Organisms (1938) reports his experiments with the study of reflexes. Walden Two (1949), a utopian novel, describes a planned community in which positive rather than negative reinforcers serve to maintain appropriate behavior; the novel stimulated the founding of some experimental communities. In Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971), Skinner attempted to show that only what he called a technology of behavior could save democracy from the many individual and social problems that plague it. (An early example of this technology is the so-called Skinner box for conditioning a human child.) A teacher at Harvard University from 1948 until his retirement, Skinner was for some the model of the objective scientist, for others the epitome of the heartless behaviorist who would turn people into automatons.

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