Meaning in Behavioral Analysis

By Hegde, M. N. | The Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis, January 5, 2010 | Go to article overview

Meaning in Behavioral Analysis


Hegde, M. N., The Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis


Introduction

Understood variably, meaning is one of the most exalted concepts in human thought, writing, and discourse. Human life itself is discussed in terms of its meaning. Philosophy--one of the highest forms of intellectual enquiry--is defined as an enquiry into the nature and meaning of life and the universe. We question or try to understand the meaning of individuals' actions, government policies, scientific data or theories, philosophical or everyday concepts, a happy or a tragic incidence, or anything that is encountered in life. But it is the meaning of meaning in language that has drawn the greatest intellectual resources from philosophers, linguists, psychologists, poets, literary critics, thinkers in general, and philologists who preceded modern linguists. Speech-language pathologists have both a theoretical and applied interest in meaning because it permeates almost all of their clinical work.

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have successfully used applied behavioral techniques in their clinical work. Such applied behavioral techniques as modeling, prompting, shaping, positive reinforcement, differential reinforcement, extinction, time-out, response cost, corrective feedback, among others, are the evidence-based treatment procedures the SLPs use in modifying disorders of speech, language, fluency, voice, and swallowing (Hegde, 1998). Behavioral treatment procedures have been extensively researched and their effects experimentally documented in remediating communication disorders in both children and adults (Duffy, 2005; Hegde, 1998; Hegde & Maul, 2006; Pena-Brooks & Hegde, 2007; Rosenbek, LaPointe, & Wertz, 1989). Although the behavioral treatment techniques used in speech and language training are based on Skinner's experimenta1 analysis of behavior (Skinner, 1953) and the resulting operant conditioning techniques, academic training of SLPs do not seem to include the behavioral (operant) view of verbal behavior to any significant extent (See Table 1). Consequently, SLPs' understanding of speech and language as empirical phenomena on the one hand and of speech and language as targets of treatment on the other are conceptually and methodologically inconsistent. Experimentally validated behavioral treatment procedures are typically grafted on to conceptually inconsistent linguistic, mentalistic, and rationalistic theories that are incapable of experimental verification.

Perhaps it is believed that the behavioral approach may be good for treatment, but not for understanding what language is and how it is learned. Child language treatment research does not support this belief, however. Consistent with Skinner's assertion that linguistic (structural) categories do not correspond to functional response classes, some treatment research studies have shown that grammatical categories and distinctions prove themselves invalid when experimental manipulations are done to treat children's language disorders. Even such basic grammatical-structural distinctions as verbal auxiliary copula and subject noun-object noun do not hold good under experimental manipulations inherent to treatment (Hegde, 1980; Hegde, & McConn, 1978; Hegde, Noll, & Pecora, 1979; McReynolds & Engmann, 1974). Furthermore, it is possible to entertain a conceptually consistent model of verbal behavior (language) and its teaching, but this possibility is realized only with an appreciation of the view that language is behavior. Contrary to what mentalistic linguists argue, the behavioral ana lysis offers a sophisticated and natural science-based analysis of all aspects of language, including what is believed to be the linguist's monopoly--grammar (Skinner, 1957). In this paper, I address not grammar, but meaning, which linguists believe is the stuff the language is made of and lies beyond behavioral explanation. To understand the behavioral analysis of meaning, it is essential to understand the Skinnerian analysis of verbal behavior. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Meaning in Behavioral Analysis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.