Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #16
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Why Skinner Considered Verbal Behavior His Most Important Work

Saturday, May 26, 2012
1:00 PM–1:50 PM
6BC (Convention Center)
Area: TPC; Domain: Theory
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Julie S. Vargas, Ph.D.
Chair: Per Holth (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences)
JULIE S. VARGAS (B. F. Skinner Foundation)
Dr. Julie S. Vargas is president of the B. F. Skinner Foundation and a former president of the Association for Behavior Analysis International.  Along with Dr. Scott Wood, she was a founder and senior editor of The Behavior Analyst. Dr. Vargas is on the editorial boards of several journals, including The Analysis of Verbal Behavior.  She is author of four books, including Behavior Analysis for Effective Teaching, published in 2009.  Her publications include two encyclopedia entries on B. F. Skinner as well as articles on instructional design, on Skinner’s life and work, and on verbal behavior.  Dr. Vargas is currently involved in archival work in conjunction with the B. F. Skinner Foundation and the Harvard University Archives. 

B. F. Skinner called Verbal Behaviorhis most important work. It is the only book entirely devoted to human behavior, a topic he had avoided in his 1938 book Behavior of Organisms. However, by 1938 Skinner had already begun work on the book that was to become Verbal Behavior. This paper traces Skinner’s comments in personal notes, correspondence, talks, and publications about verbal behavior and its importance for a science of behavior.

Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: 1.  List two features of the book Verbal Behavior that were responsible for Skinner saying the book was “his most important work.” 2.   Explain how the main characteristics of Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior extended his experimental laboratory work.  



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