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Putting all together

Handout at ABA, V, Milwaukee, 1980

“Circumstances rule men; men do not rule circumstances.” — HERODOTUS

“Circumstances alter cases.” — SAM SLICK

“Circumstances alter the specifics of ‘behavioral laws.'” — VERPLANCK, after KANTOR

The problem:
One individual of a given species will behave in specific ways, with respect to specific others, objects, and events that occur within a specific set of circumstances.

We know a lot about pigeons in Skinner boxes and kids in schoolrooms. We can, to a degree, predict and control.

But we have not been able to predict or control the behavior of the same individual under other circumstances, in other places, dealing with other individuals, objects, and events.

Basic Concepts
S stimuli R responses
transients operants
stators respondents
L locomotions
response classes
response sets
  defined by operations of measurement:
R:NT L:N,T,d


classes of stimuli S <——> R
   concepts investigated through the
Paradigmatic Operations
Identified by observed relationships with R and L: antecedent, simultaneous, and consequent. 1. Stimulus: S
stimulus events, independent of response
When so identified, manipulated as “independent” or measured “dependent” variables in operations. 2. Response: R
action taken with respect to response; no analysis of environmental stimuli
3. Dependence:  R>S
stimulus occurs dependent on response.
3a. Contingence/Discriminal:SR>S
dependence operation carried out if and only if a specific S has occurred, or is occurring.

physical measures enable replication

Now, to specifics

Within a set of circumstances
op produce preclude
s onset offset onset offset
reinforcer reinforce

The reader will be able to fill in these cells with the names of the operations, and the processes they control. Specific reinforcers and aversors are identified as such through the demonstration of the process, when the operation has been carried out, using the specific objects and events.


Operations, which, when they occur or are carried out, alter what the ‘specifics of behaving’ will be:
What responses will occur, and with what probability;
What objects and events will function as stimuli–elicitors, releasers, punishers, and reinforcers.

The set of specific objects, events, activities, which covary as stimuli, and as responses following or during a behavior setting operation, we term a Behavior Set.

Empirically, one or more members of the set serve as stimuli for other individuals, enabling the other to behave “appropriately”–i.e., to predict the behavior of the individual showing the behavior set.

compare: “drive” “instinct” “emotion”
compare especially McDougall: cognition–stimuli; conation–R’s, add reinforcer; feeling–observation

cf.: “expression of emotion” and the behaving individual
[addition, 1997: Darwin, James-Lange Theory]

Some Setting Operations
(ways to “alter circumstances”)

  1. Introduction into an Environment
        Behavior settings” — Barker
  2. Presentation of Particular Stimuli
        Intense aversors. . .
         (scare him to death)
        Punishment-paired people. . .
         (Let the principal walk into the classroom)
  3. Scheduling of Particular Stimuli
         (of food, of water, of reading material)
  4. Instruction:
        (“Watch out for little nicks or scratches on the boxes as they come by. Pull aside all the ones that have such nicks or scratches. The chief inspector will sample the ones you’ve let go by, and if he finds too many defective ones you’ve missed, you’ll be discharged.”)
        (“Press the key as quickly as you can as soon as the light flashes after the ready signal.”)
  5. Etc., etc.

note: parentheses indicate examples.

We will not prove highly successful as a science, whether ‘basic’ or ‘applied’ until we find out a lot more about setting events, their relationship to one another, and that of their Behavior Sets to one another.

1997 Notes: The foregoing is descriptive, not “explanatory.” It posits no “causes.” It does provide categories into which a given sequence of behaviors may be placed with similar/parallel/analogous behaviors, and hence may enable a degree of prediction (probabilities of ‘verification’ less than 1.0)

The operations are carried out experimentally; they parallel sequences of behavioral events that can be observed in “real life,” whether in a jungle, a supermarket, or a classroom.

Note that the paradigmatic operations are carried out on specific S<—>Rs that are members of a behavior set.

Setting operations are to behavior sets as stimuli are to responses: They are functionally defined by their interrelationship.

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