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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Paper Session #425
A Look Back at B. F. Skinner's Writings
Monday, May 26, 2014
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
W185d (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: VRB
Chair: Genae Hall (Behavior Analysis Center for Autism, Behavior Analysis & Intervention Services)

B. F. Skinner and E. G. Boring: A Love - Hate Relationship

Domain: Service Delivery
KRISTJAN GUDMUNDSSON (Reykjavik College of Women)

B. F. Skinner had difficulties in graduating from the Harvard psychology department and his Ph. D. thesis was in fact originally rejected, due to the major figure in Harvard psychology, E. G. Boring. But Boring was also the person that instigated Skinner's move back to Harvard as a professor 20 years later. In this paper I analyze the complex relationship between the two, Skinner and Boring, beginning with Boring's criticism of Skinner's thesis and relate it to Chomsky's infamous similar criticism. This can only be done through unpublished material touched upon in Skinner's autobiographies and better revealed in the Harvard Archives. An evaluation is made of the changing relationship between the two and of Boring's original criticism, that let him to reject Skinner's original thesis.


A Review of Skinner's Treatment of Abstract or Conceptual Control in his 1957 book, Verbal Behavior

Domain: Theory
GENAE HALL (Behavior Analysis Center for Autism, Behavior Analysis & Intervention Services)

Abstract or conceptual verbal responding (i.e., verbal relations established without direct differential reinforcement) continue to be of great interest to many behavior analysts. Workers in the field have disagreed, however, regarding the extent to which Skinner addressed or dealt adequately with the topic in his (1957) book Verbal Behavior. In his 1987 article in The Behavior Analyst, Alessi summarized and integrated treatments of abstract or conceptual control by Skinner (1957) and Engelmann and Carnine (1982), and emphasized the educational importance of employing generative teaching strategies. He also specifically noted that Skinner (1957) discussed abstract control in sections on minimal response repertoires, manipulative autoclitic frames, abstract stimulus control, and generic tact extension. The present paper will expand on Alessi's analysis of Skinner's treatment of abstract responding in the aforementioned sections of Verbal Behavior, identify other areas of the book which appear to address abstract control, and indicate how the principles underlying generic tact extension appear applicable to some of the other verbal operants.




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