The Stream of Behavior: Explorations of Its Structure & Content

The Stream of Behavior: Explorations of Its Structure & Content

The Stream of Behavior: Explorations of Its Structure & Content

The Stream of Behavior: Explorations of Its Structure & Content

Excerpt

ROGER G.BARKER

TEMPORAL ASPECTS OF BEHAVIOR are among the most compelling in experience and among the most easily measured of all of behavior's unnumbered characteristics. Despite the saliency of the time dimension however, little is known about the actual arrangement of behavior along its temporal axis. The studies reported in this volume attempt to push forward on this frontier; they are all empirical approaches to the stream of behavior and they have had to cope with some common problems.

Behavior Units and Behavior Tesserae

Innumerable parts of the behavior stream have been identified and described, encompassing such diverse phenomena as an alpha wave, a maze- learning trial, and a psychotic episode, a five-minute segment of behavior, a game of marbles, and an answer to a pollster's question. The stream of behavior can be divided into an infinite number of parts. These countless parts of the behavior continuum are of two types so far as their origin along the time dimension is concerned.

One type, here called behavior units , consists of the inherent segments of the stream of behavior. The boundaries of behavior units occur at those points of the behavior stream where changes occur independently of the operations of the investigator. Alpha waves, psychotic episodes, and games of marbles are behavior units. Behavior units enter psychology when investigators function as transducers, observing and recording behavior with techniques that do not influence its course. When a child is observed to sit on a rock (Lewin, 1935, p. 83), to refuse to say "Please" (Stern, 1938, p. 499), or to make a "house" (Isaacs, 1933, p. 168) in the ordinary course of his life without instigation or direction by the observer, behavior units are observed.

The other parts of the behavior stream may be appropriately called behavior tesserae . Tesserae are the pieces of glass or marble used in mosaic work; they are created or selected by the mosaic maker to fulfill his artistic . . .

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