IN THE PROCESSES of composition and editing the speaker arranges, qualifies, withholds, or releases verbal behavior which already exists in some strength in his repertoire. Much of the behavior emitted upon any occasion "just grows"--it springs from the current changing environment and from other verbal behavior in progress. We have now to consider certain specific activities which have the effect of strengthening responses in the speaker's behavior and hence of increasing the supply of behavior to be composed and edited. For the moment we shall confine ourselves to the procedures the speaker employs to increase the availability of behavior which already exists in some strength. The techniques involve most of the variables so far discussed. A person controls his own behavior, verbal or otherwise, as he controls the behavior of others.1
There are occasions upon which we say that the speaker "needs a verbal response." The circumstances may be incomplete, as when variables which strengthen behavior without respect to form need supplementary sources of strength. Current contingencies would be satisfied by practically any response, provided it were verbal, but no response is in sufficient strength. Thus, in finding something to say to fill an embarrassing pause, we cast about for a stimulus--the weather is usually available--and respond to it. "Casting about" is the sort of activity at issue here.
Other important occasions for "casting about" do more than strengthen verbal behavior without respect to form. A response is, demanded which will have more specific properties. There are, so to speak, advance specifications which the response must fulfill, though they are not sufficient to determine its form. When someone points____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Verbal Behavior. Contributors: B. F. Skinner - Author. Publisher: Appleton-Century-Crofts. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1957. Page number: 403.
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