In this volume are recorded the proceedings of a Conference on Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior held in the fall of 1959 under the auspices of New York University and the U.S. Office of Naval Research. By way of preface to these proceedings, I wish to report on how the conference developed, what its plan of operation was, how the proceedings were prepared and what they represent, and to acknowledge the fact that the aid of several individuals and organizations was indispensable to the execution of the conference plan.
In the fall of 1958, when I was at the University of Maryland, Dr. D. D. Smith and I agreed that a conference in the general area of verbal learning was desirable. A great deal of research has gone on in verbal learning--75 years' worth--and the Office of Naval Research, as well as other agencies, has had an important supporting role in a good deal of it, under its policy of encouraging basic research. Dr. Smith and I made up a list of people whom we felt to be particularly active in the traditional field of verbal learning, most of whom were current or recent ONR contractors. We made these persons a committee, and from that time on these persons participated in the development of the plans for the con- ference program and participating personnel. Smith and I had agreed that the total conference group would be small, that the papers would consider problems of theory, issue, and method rather than be direct research reports, and that a series of papers on important topics would be prepared and distributed prior to the meeting.
With these agreements in mind, I wrote to the following committee members: James Deese, A. E. Goss, G. A. Miller, C. E. Noble, Leo Post- man, and B. J. Underwood. They were apprised of the general plans which Smith and I had developed, and several topics for the conference were proposed. Nominations of potential participants were solicited. The response was enthusiastic. With two more exchanges of correspondence, the conference topics were settled, and the other participants were agreed upon. Invitations and assignments were then sent out to these other participants. One person, because of ill health, declined to participate. Later, two other people, one of them G. A. Miller, had to withdraw because of unanticipated conflicts with other commitments. A little fur- ther adjustment of topics and assignments was therefore necessary.
As planned, the seven assigned papers were prepared and distributed . . .