Title

Teaching tacting of private events based on public accompaniments: Effects of contingencies, stimulus complexity, and audience control

Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Analysis of Verbal Behavior

Department

Psychology

ISSN

0889-9401

Volume

30

Issue

1

DOI

10.1007/s40616-014-0006-y

First Page

1

Last Page

19

Publication Date

1-1-2014

Abstract

Our current understanding of the role of private events in the science of behavior is based largely on Skinner’s natural science interpretation of private events. Skinner described public accompaniments as one source of control for a verbal community to differentially reinforce verbal behavior regarding private events. In this study, we developed an experimental analogue to study variables influencing tacting of private events. The participant had exclusive access to one set of stimuli (the private stimuli), and the experimenter attempted to teach tacts for private stimuli based on their correspondence with public stimuli accessible to both the experimenter and participant. Results of experiments 1 and 2 demonstrated that reports of private stimuli were a function of degree of public-private correspondence, reinforcement contingency, and audience control. In some cases, we encountered reports controlled exclusively by public stimuli. Results of experiment 3 showed that public control was less likely when public stimuli were more complex and the experimenter had a unique behavioral history with respect to those stimuli that was not shared by the learner. The orderly patterns of data obtained suggest that analogue arrangements might be a useful, and even necessary, starting point for experimental investigations of how private events may enter into the analysis of behavior.

Comments

This study was conducted in partial fulfillment of the first author’s requirements for the doctoral degree at Western New England University.

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