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.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #196
CE Offered: BACB

Sources of Novel Behavior: Implications for the Development of Verbal Behavior

Sunday, May 29, 2005
1:30 PM–2:20 PM
Lake Michigan (8th floor)
Area: DEV; Domain: Theory
CE Instructor: Jacob L. Gewirtz, Ph.D.
Chair: Jacob L. Gewirtz (Florida International University)
A. CHARLES CATANIA (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
A. Charles Catania began his career in behavior analysis in Fall 1954, when he enrolled in Fred Keller’s course in introductory psychology at Columbia. That course included a weekly laboratory on the behavior of rats, and Catania continued working with rats and pigeons and other nonhuman organisms over subsequent decades. In Spring 2004, having closed down his pigeon laboratory the previous summer, he celebrated his half century of animal lab activity with a classroom rat demonstration in a learning course that he had shared for many years with his late colleague, Eliot Shimoff. He regards the study of nonhuman behavior as essential to our understanding of verbal behavior, because verbal behavior is necessarily supported by a nonverbal scaffolding. That lesson too came from Columbia, where, as a senior, Catania took a seminar on verbal behavior jointly taught by Fred Keller, Nat Schoenfeld and Ralph Hefferline. Ever since, Catania has been addicted to the field of verbal behavior, teaching courses in it whenever possible. One function of his text, “Learning,” is to integrate the topics of nonverbal and verbal behavior, which have too often been given separate treatments.

Among the criticisms of B. F. Skinners analysis of verbal behavior is Noam Chomskys claim that it had nothing useful to say about productivity, the generation of novel grammatical utterances. Yet the behavior analytic armamentarium includes a variety of sources of novel behavior, including shaping, fading, adduction, the direct reinforcement of novelty, and the emergence of novel instances of higher order classes. This presentation will consider the implications of such sources for the development of productive verbal behavior and will address Chomskian arguments such as the argument from the poverty of the stimulus. In so doing, it will examine semantic as well as syntactic novelty, as when verbal behavior allows the creation of novel entities such as angels and demons.This address is dedicated to Eliot Shimoff




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