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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #227
CE Offered: BACB
The Science of Skinner’s Analysis of Verbal Behavior: Theory and Basic Research
Sunday, May 28, 2017
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 3A
Area: VRB/EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Samantha Bergmann (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee )
Discussant: David C. Palmer (Smith College)
CE Instructor: Samantha Bergmann, M.A.
Abstract: In 1957, Skinner published Verbal Behavior and provided radical behaviorist’s a framework with which to theorize on and experiment with language. The investigations and theoretical discussions presented in this symposium expound and explicate Skinner’s assertions of verbal behavior and include topics such as: the role of covert verbal behavior in the emission of overt verbal behavior, emergence of analogical reasoning, acquisition of syntax, and the possible implications of an epistemology of scientific language on the material and method of study. First, Harman et al. analyzed the effects of auditory stimuli on undergraduate students responding during math tasks in a series of experiments. Next, Meyer, Lantaya, Cordeiro, Zhirnova, and Miguel investigated the role of listener training on the emergence of tacts and analogical reasoning using component and relation training. Mellor and Petursdottir compared the effects of three types of multiple-exemplar instruction on the acquisition of tacts and syntactic structure in an artificial language. Finally, Normand refined and expanded upon Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior to scientific language, specifically how scientists’ verbal behavior can shape practice and theory. Implications and extensions to rouse future applications of Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior will be presented.
Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): covert behavior, reasoning, syntax, verbal behavior
Examining the Effects of an Unrelated Auditory Stimulus on the Accuracy and Latency to Respond to a Math Task
(Basic Research)
MIKE HARMAN (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Tiffany Kodak (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee), Samantha Bergmann (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee ), Brittany LeBlanc (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee), Christopher Baumann (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee ), Leah Bohl (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee ), Gabriella Rachal Van Den Elzen (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee )
Abstract: Palmer (1998) provided a description of a cascade of covert listener responses that may occur when an individual contacts a complex discriminative stimulus. These responses may be interrupted by presenting competing variables which may affect the appropriateness of a response due to defective feedback (Skinner, 1970). The current experiments analyzed the effects of playing auditory stimuli during response intervals in which participants were instructed to solve addition problems. In Experiment 1, the experimenter provided the addition problem vocally; in Experiment 2, the experimenter presented the problem vocally and textually. In both experiments, an audio recording of numbers (the auditory stimulus) played during half of the trials. Results of both experiments showed that the absence of a visual stimulus increased the disruptive effects of the auditory stimulus by increasing latency to respond and decreasing response accuracy. In comparison, the effects of the auditory stimulus were minimal when a textual stimulus of the math problem remained present during the response interval. The textual stimulus may have permitted continued observing responses and more effective echoic and self-echoic behavior. Future research should incorporate methodological techniques to directly measure echoic and self-echoic responses during the response interval such as a “think aloud” procedure.
The Effects of Listener Training on the Emergence of Analogical Reasoning
(Basic Research)
CAREEN SUZANNE MEYER (California State University, Sacramento), Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento), Charisse Ann Lantaya (H.O.P.E. Consulting, LLC), Clara Cordeiro (California State University, Sacramento ), Tatiana Zhirnova (California State University, Sacramento ), Adrienne Jennings (H.O.P.E. Consulting, LLC)
Abstract: Previous research (Miguel et al., 2015) suggested that analogical responding can be produced in the laboratory via component and compound tact training as long as participants bidirectionally name the stimuli by engaging in speaker and listener behaviors (e.g., saying “same” and select when hearing “same”). The purpose of this study was to investigate the role listener training on the emergence of tacts and analogical responding. We trained four participants to select component stimuli from two three-member classes, with class one as “vek” and class two as “zog,” and compound images as “same” and “different.” We tested analogies of baseline (AB and BC), symmetry, (BA and CB), and transitivity (AC and CA) relations with both class-consistent (e.g., vek-vek = zog-zog) and class-inconsistent compounds (e.g., vek-zog = zog-vek). Three participants passed analogy tests after component (i.e., vek/zog) listener training alone. One participant passed only after completing both component and relation (i.e., same/different) listener training. Results suggest that listener training of component and compound stimuli can lead to their respective tacts (i.e., names), suggesting bidirectional naming is essential for passing analogical reasoning tasks.
Acquisition of a Small Artificial Language as an Analogue of Second Language Learning
(Basic Research)
JAMES R. MELLOR (Texas Christian University), Anna I. Petursdottir (Texas Christian University)
Abstract: We compared the effects of three types of multiple-exemplar instruction on the acquisition of vocal tacts with a novel syntactic structure in a miniature artificial language. The language contained 12 words (5 verbs, 5 nouns, and 2 case markers) in an object-verb-subject syntax. The nouns and verbs corresponded to shapes and actions which were displayed digitally to the participant. 28 college students participated and were randomly assigned to three conditions. The direct instruction group received of verbal feedback on vocal responses in the presence of multiple visual scenes until a mastery criterion was achieved. The other groups received yoked amounts of (a) prolonged exposure (i.e., viewing correct sentence exemplars paired with visual scenes with no response requirement), and (b) discrimination instruction (i.e., feedback on discrimination of correct and incorrect sentence exemplars paired with visual scenes). The direct instruction and exposure groups produced significantly more correct sentences at post-test than the discrimination instruction group, and also discriminated correct and incorrect exemplars more accurately. Implications for the behavioral analysis of grammar and second language acquisition will be discussed.
The Language of Science: A Brief Sketch of Radical Epistemology
MATTHEW P. NORMAND (University of the Pacific)
Abstract: Science is what scientists do. More specifically, it is what they say about the world they study and about how they study it. Science is a way of talking about the world that enables the listener to behave more effectively with respect to what is described. When we refer to "science," we are referring primarily to the verbal practices of scientists, which are shaped by a particular kind of verbal community that differs in important ways from the verbal communities of everyday life. Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior has clear implications for scientific philosophy and practice, and, even more broadly, for a radical approach to epistemology. This talk will not necessarily introduce new ideas or analyses, but I will attempt to refine and expand Skinner’s analysis of scientific language, including the implications for how we know, what we can know, and what it means to know anything at all.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh