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.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Special Event #191
2006 ABA Tutorial: The Extension of Skinner's Verbal Operants to Interpretations of Complex Behavior: A Tutorial
Sunday, May 28, 2006
2:30 PM–3:20 PM
Centennial Ballroom I
Area: VRB
Chair: William F. Potter (California State University, Stanislaus)
2006 ABA Tutorial: The Extension of Skinner's Verbal Operants to Interpretations of Complex Behavior: A Tutorial
Abstract: This tutorial will be aimed at the behavior analyst who has little or no familiarity with Skinner's Verbal Behavior. I will briefly outline Skinner's interpretive scheme and will then discuss two verbal operants, the intraverbal and the autoclitic, in greater depth. I will show the role these operants play, or might plausibly play, in our understanding of grammar, problem solving, and memory. In this exposition, I will have occasion to mention one of the remarkable assumptions of the book, namely that behavior that has not been emitted, either overtly or covertly, plays a role in our understanding of complex behavior.
DAVID C. PALMER (Smith College)
David C. Palmer discovered Skinner by reading Walden Two while on a caving trip to North Carolina, because he thought it must have had something to do with his hero, Thoreau. He spent the next decade on a soap box preaching about Walden Two and reading the rest of the Skinner canon. Eventually he realized that he was no Frazier, and he applied to graduate school in behavior analysis under John Donahoe. He was happy in grad school and would be there still if the University of Massachusetts hadn’t threatened to change the locks. He has spent the last 17 years as the token behaviorist at Smith College. During that time he co-authored, with Donahoe, Learning and Complex Behavior. He continues to puzzle over the interpretation of memory, problem-solving, and, particularly, verbal behavior. He once referred to himself, in a jocular vein, as a goose-stepping Skinnerian, but he found that the label fit, and he now wears it without apology



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