Verbal Behavior Syllabus

All Blog Entries
Posted by: Phil Chase on Aug 9th, 2010

Advanced Analysis of Behavior :Verbal Behavior 


Instructor: Phil Chase   Telephone: 978-369-2227 Email:

Required Text: Skinner, B. F. (1957). Verbal Behavior.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.


Welcome!  This is your course policy.  It will be worth your time to read this policy thoroughly to assure yourself that this course is (or is not) the course you thought it would be.  In order to help you make an educated decision about taking this course, let me describe the content of the course and the methods that will be used. 

Content and Goals

Goals and Objectives

By the time you finish you will be prepared to discuss at an expert level the place of Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior within modern behavior analytic research on verbal behavior and language.

This general goal translates into six objectives. By the time you finish this course you will be able to:


1.  Define, identify, and exemplify Skinner’s basic forms of verbal behavior.

2.  Describe research on Skinner’s basic forms of verbal behavior.

3.  Compare and contrast Skinner’s definition of verbal behavior with other definitions.

4.  Describe complex verbal behavior including extension, abstraction, concept formation, rule governance, and multiple control of verbal behavior.

5.  Describe current research on complex verbal behavior.

6.   Write a research proposal for studying verbal behavior.


In order to accomplish these objectives you will need to read a number of texts, chapters, and articles.  Representative examples are listed below.  This list may be changed or extended during the semester if I find more appropriate readings.

I. Skinner’s analysis

Peterson, N. (1978). Introduction to Verbal Behavior. Grand Rapids, MI: Behavior Associates. 

Skinner, B. F. (1957). Verbal Behavior.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Skinner, B. F. (1969). Contingencies of Reinforcement: A Theoretical Analysis, Chapter 6. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

II. Alternative analyses

Barnes-Holmes, D., Barnes-Holmes, Y., & Cullivan, V. (2000). Relational frame theory and Skinner’s Verbal Behavior. The Behavior Analyst, 23, 69-84.

Chase, P. N. (1986). Three perspectives on verbal learning: Associative, Cognitive, and Operant. In P.N. Chase & L. J. Parrottt (Eds.) Psychological aspects of language: The West Virginia Lectures, pp. 5-35. Springfield. IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Chomsky, N. (1959). Review of B. F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior. Language, 35, 26-58.

Hayes, S. C. (1991). A relational control theory of stimulus equivalence. In L. J. Hayes & P. N. Chase (Eds.) Dialogues on verbal behavior, pp. 19-40. Reno: Context Press.           

MacCorquodale, K. (1970). On Chomsky’s review of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 13, 83-99.

Palmer, D. C. (1986). Chomsky’s nativism: A critical review. In P.N. Chase & L. J. Parrott (Eds.) Psychological aspects of language: The West Virginia Lectures, pp. 44-60.. Springfield. IL: Charles C. Thomas.           

III. Research on verbal behavior

Alessi, G. (1987). Generative strategies and teaching for generalization. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 5, 15-27.

Baer, R., Detrich, R., & Weninger, J. M. (1988).  On the functional role of the verbalization in correspondence training procedures.  Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 21, 345-356.

Baron, A. & Galizio, M. (1983). Instructional control of human operant behavior. Psychological Record, 33, 495-520.

Boe, R., & Winokur, S. (1978). A procedure for studying echoic control in verbal behavior. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 30, 213-217.

Braam, S. J. & Poling, A. (1983). Development of intraverbal behavior in mentally retarded individuals through transfer of stimulus control procedures. Applied Research in Mental Retardation, 4, 279-302.

Chase, P.N. & Danforth, J. S. (1991). The role of rules in concept formation. In L. J. Hayes & P. N. Chase (Eds.) Dialogues on verbal behavior, pp. 205-225. Reno: Context Press

Chase, P. N., Johnson, K. R., & Sulzer-Azaroff, B. (1985). Verbal relations within instruction: Are there subclasses of the intraverbal? Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 43, 301-314.

Cowley, B. J., Green, G. & Braunling-McMorrow, D. (1992). Using stimulus equivalence procedures to teach name-face matching to adults with brain injuries. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 25, 461-475.

Frisch, S. A. &  Schumaker, J. B. (1974). Training generalized receptive prepositions in retarded children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 7, 611-621.

Galizio, M. (1979). Coningency-shaped and rule-governed behavior: Instructional control of human loss avoidance. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 31, 53-70.

Garcia, E. E. & DeHaven, E. D. (1974). Use of operant techniques in the establishment and generalization of language: A review and analysis. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 79, 169-178.

Green, G. & Saunders, R. R. (1998).  Stimulus equivalence. In K. A. Lattal & M. Perone (Eds.) Handbook of Research Methods in Human Operant Behavior, pp. 229-262. New York: Plenum.

Guess, D., Sailor, W., Rutherford, G., & Baer, D. M. (1968). An experimental analysis of linguistic development: The productive use of plural morpheme. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1, 297-306.

Hall, G. & Sundberg, M. (1987). Teaching mands by manipulating conditioned establishing operations. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 5, 41-53.

Hayes, S. C. (1994). Relational frame theory: A functional approach to verbal events.  In S.C. Hayes, L. J. Hayes,  M. Sato, &  K. Ono (Eds.), Behavior analysis of language and cognition, pp.9-30. Reno, NV: Context Press

Horne, P. J. & Lowe, C. F. (1996). On the origins of naming and other symbolic behavior.  Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 65, 185-241.

Joyce, J. H. & Chase, P. N. (1990). Effects of response variability on the sensitivity of rule-governed behavior. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 54, 251-262.

Keller, K. S. & Schoenfeld, W. N. (1950). Principles of Psychology, New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Lamarre, L. & Holland, J. (1985). The functional independence of mands and tacts. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 43, 5-19.

Lutzker, J. R. & Sherman, J. A. (1974). Producing generative sentence use by imitation and reinforcement procedures. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 7, 447-460.           

Lynch, D. C. & Cuvo, A. J. (1995).  Stimulus equivalence instruction of fraction-decimal relations. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 28, 115-126.

McDowell, E. E. (1968). A programmed method of reading instruction for the use with kindergarten children. The Psychological Record, 18, 233-239.

Michael. J. L. (1985). Two kinds of verbal behavior plus a possible third. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 3, 2-5.

Place, U. T. (1991). Conversation analysis and the analysis of verbal behavior. In L. J. Hayes & P. N. Chase (Eds.) Dialogues on verbal behavior, pp. 85-109. Reno: Context Press.

Risley, T. R., & Hart, B. (1968). Developing correspondence between the nonverbal and verbal behavior of preschool children.  Journal of Appiled Behavior Analysis, 1, 267-281.

Shimoff, E. & Catania, A.C. (1998).  The verbal governance of behavior. In K. A. Lattal & M. Perone (Eds.) Handbook of Research Methods in Human Operant Behavior, pp. 371-404. New York: Plenum.

Sidman, M. (1971). Reading and auditory-visual equivalences. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 14, 5-13.

Sidman, M. (1986). Functional analysis of emergent verbal classes.  In T. Thompson & M. D. Zeiler (Eds.), Analysis and integration of behavioral units, pp.213-245. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Sidman, M.  (1994). Equivalence relations and behavior: A research story. Boston: Authors Cooperative.

Sidman, M. & Cresson, O. (1973). Reading and cross modal transfer of stimulus equivalence in severe retardation. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 77, 515-523.

Sundberg, M. L. (1991). 301 research topics from Skinner’s book Verbal Behavior.  The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 9, 81-96.

Sundberg, C. T. & Sundberg, M. L. Comparing topography-based verbal behavior with stimulus selection-based verbal behavior. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 8, 31-41.

Weiner, H. (1970). Instructional control of human operant responding during extinction following fixed-ratio conditioning. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 13,391-394.

Wetherby, B. & Striefel (1978). Application of miniature linguistic system or matrix training precedures. In Richard L. Schiefelbusch (Ed.) Language Intervention Strategies, pp. 319-356.           

Wraikat, R., Sundberg, C. T. & Michael, J. (1991).  Topography-based and selection-based verbal behavior: A further comparison. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 9, 1-17.



Because the primary goal of this class is to make sure you can discuss verbal behavior as an expert, I don't think it makes much sense for me to lecture.  That would demonstrate my ability to discuss verbal behavior, not yours.  Because the class is an advanced graduate seminar, I also do not think it is necessary to include quizzes and tests to ensure participation.  Therefore, I propose that the class be structured in two ways.  First, we will work through the readings described on the course calendar. Each set of readings will have a set of exercises. When we meet for class I will use these exercises as the basis for a thorough discussion of the key points of the readings. You are responsible for preparing answers to these exercises to be used in our discussions.  You will turn your answers into me at the end of each class and I will grade them on a five point scale, where 1= unsatisfactory and 5= excellent. Second, three times during the semester you will have assignments related to designing a research proposal (see below). I will read, edit, correct, and return these assignments to you the following week. We also will use these assignments as a basis for our discussions. These three assignments are also listed on the calendar. 

After we have finished the readings we will have individual presentations on the research you have proposed. The presentations will be graded on a five point scale where 1 = unsatisfactory and 5 = excellent. Presentations will also be rated by the other students in the class on the same scale. The proposed study may address any aspect of the study of verbal behavior from a behavior analytic perspective. The proposal should conform to the guidelines for the research preliminary exam that are described in the Graduate Student Handout for students in the Behavior Analysis Program.


The assignments related to your research proposal will be graded and returned to you with comments. If you have not received at least a B (80% of available points) on any of these assignments, you may turn them in again with improvements. I ask only that you turn in the second attempts no more than one week after I return it to you.  If you do not receive at least a B (80% of the available points) on the final assignment you may fill out an incomplete contract that specifies when you will complete the assignment and you will receive an incomplete. If you fail to complete the assignment by the contracted date, your incomplete will be turned into the grade you have earned by the end of the semester. If you do not request an incomplete contract you will receive the grade earned at the end of the semester.

Reading Exercises@ 5 points each………………………..80 points


            My rating …………………………………………..40 points

            Median of peer ratings……………………………..20 points


            Topic…………………………………………………10 points

            Draft………………………………………………….50 points

            Final ………………………………………………..100 points

 TOTAL……………………………………………………..300 points


A-300-270 points

B-269-240 points

F- below 240 points


Note to Disabled Students:

If you have any physical, mental, or learning disabilities that you feel will affect either your performance in the class or put you in need of special attention, please speak to me by email or by phone.  All information will be held in the strictest confidence.

Statement of Social Justice:

I am committed to social justice. I expect to foster a nurturing learning environment based on open communication, mutual respect, and non-discrimination. I do not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, disability, veteran status, religion, sexual orientation, color, or national origin.  Any suggestions as to how to further such a positive and open environment in this class will be appreciated and given serious consideration.


Dates                Readings/Assignments


Aug 18               Introductory Discussion.

Aug 20               Definition of Verbal Behavior-Skinner (1957) pp.1-34, plus pp. 224-226. Exercise 1

Aug 25               Continue with definition of verbal behavior-Chomsky (1959); MacCorquodale (1970). Exercise 2

Aug 27               Continue with definition of verbal behavior-Palmer (1986); Chase (1986). Exercise 3

Sept 1              Labor Day Recess-enjoy one of the last days of summer.

Sept 3              Skinner’s basic forms-mands-Skinner (1957) Chapter 3; Hall & Sundberg, (1987). Exercise 4

Sept 8              Skinner’s basic forms-echoics, textuals, transcriptions-Skinner (1957) pp.52-71; Boe & Winokur (1978); McDowell (1968). Exercise 5

Sept 10            Skinner’s basic forms-intraverbals-Skinner (1957) pp.71-80; Braam & Poling (1983); Chase, Johnson & Sulzer-Azaroff (1985). Exercise 6

Sept 15             Continue discussion and catch up on verbal behavior under the control of verbal antecedents.

Sept 17            Skinner’s basic forms-tacts-Skinner (1957) pp. 81-90; Guess, Sailor, Rutherford, & Baer (1968); Lamarre & Holland (1985); also return to Hall & Sundberg (1987). Exercise 7

Sept 22            Continue discussion of mands and tacts.

Sept 24            Complex verbal behavior-Extended tacts and abstraction-Skinner (1957) pp.91-129; Keller & Schoenfeld (1950) pp. 154-163; Alessi (1987). Exercise 8

Sept 29            Continue discussion of extended tacts and abstraction.

Oct 1               Complex verbal behavior-Multiple causation-Skinner (1957) Chap. 9.; Place (1991) up to page 91; Sundberg (1991). Exercise 9

Oct 6               Continue discussion of complex verbal behavior and catch-up

Oct 8               Complex verbal behavior-rule governance-Skinner (1969) Chap. 6; Baron & Galizio (1983). Exercise 10

Oct 13              Continue discussion of rule governance- Chase & Danforth (1991) pp.205-214; Shimoff & Catania (1998). Exercise 11

Oct 15              Continue discussion of rule governance-Galizio (1979); Joyce & Chase (1990). Exercise 12

Oct 20             Continue discussion of rule governance-Wetherby & Striefel (1978) pp. 319-344; Risley & Hart (1968); Baer, Detrich, & Weninger (1988) Exercise 13

Oct 22             Topography versus selection based verbal behavior-Michael (1985); Sundberg & Sundberg (1990); Wraikat et al. (1991). Exercise 14

Oct 27             Continue discussion of topography and selection based verbal behavior- First assignment-Statement of the topic of your paper.

Oct 29             Stimulus equivalence- Sidman (1986). Green & Saunders (1998); Sidman (1971); Sidman & Cresson (1973); Sidman (2000). Exercise 15


Nov 3              Stimulus equivalence continued

Nov 5               Continued discussion of stimulus equivalence.

Nov 10              Finish definition/critiqueof verbal behavior-Hayes (1991); Barnes-Holmes et al. (2000). Exercise 16

Nov 12              Wrap up-Did Skinner succeed? Refinements needed? Second assignment-Draft of the


Nov 17              Two Class presentations. Thirty minutes each.

Nov 19              Two Class presentations. Thirty minutes each.

Dec 1               Two Class presentations. Thirty minutes each.

Dec 5               Two Class presentations. Thirty minutes each.  Third assignment-Turn in final proposal


Share |


Copyright ©1997-2017 by the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. All rights reserved.

The text of this website is available for modification and reuse under the terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License and the GNU Free Documentation License.

быстрый займ на карту