An Introduction to Verbal Behavior

Norman Peterson
4.21 out of 5
(297 customer reviews)



An interactive, multimedia tutorial that will help you master the key concepts, terms, and approach of B.F. Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior and language

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Brand: CEUniverse


B.F. Skinner’s book Verbal Behavior provided a conceptual framework for both researchers and clinicians interested in human language. It serves as the basis for many interventions in applied behavior analysis, and contributes to a functional understanding of human language.

That book had two major components. First, it introduced a set of new concepts for classifying and analyzing verbal behavior. Second, it then used these new concepts to develop an innovative and profound analysis and interpretation of factors that account for the behavior of an individual speaker. However, much of the power and intricacies of that analysis are lost if the introductory material is not mastered first. This tutorial—based on a programmed instructional text of the same name first published by Behavior Associates, Inc. in 1978—provides a way to quickly and thoroughly master those concepts with a fully interactive, multimedia introduction to verbal behavior.

About the Author

Dr. Norm PetersonDr. Norm Peterson recently retired as the Director of Operations at the Foundation for Behavioral Resources. He earned his Ph.D. in Psychology from Western Michigan University, where he was one of the first graduates of that department’s doctoral program in Behavior Analysis. Prior to his work at the Foundation, Dr. Peterson also served as a faculty member at Western Michigan University and as a senior HR Consultant at Consumers Energy.

Learning Objectives

This tutorial introduces B.F. Skinner’s conceptual framework for analyzing human language and verbal behavior. It will be particularly beneficial to those working to establish verbal repertoires with children or adults who have language delays. This tutorial will not provide you with training in specific interventions or methods based on Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior, but it will provide you with a conceptual understanding of the theoretical basis of such interventions and methods. Upon completing this tutorial, the learner should be able to:

  1. Identify definitions and examples of key theoretical concepts in Skinner’s analysis of human language (including verbal behavior, verbal stimulation, thematic and formal control, tact,
    mand, echoic, intraverbal, textual, taking dictation, audience control, types of extension, multiple causation, secondary verbal behavior, and autoclitic mands and tacts)
  2. Distinguish between formal and thematic control of verbal behavior
  3. Classify examples of the different ways verbal operants can be extended
  4. Specify the different ways we learn to respond to private stimulation
  5. Analyze samples of natural language using the terms and concepts of Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior


This tutorial is based on a programmed textbook that was initially written as part of the author’s dissertation research at Western Michigan University and originally published in 1978. The content of this tutorial should be considered quite accurate, as it was written by an expert in the field and reviewed for accuracy by a number of other experts, including Dr. Richard Malott, Dr. Jack Michael, Dr. Linda Parott Hayes, and Greg Stikeleather. It was launched as an online tutorial on FoxyLearning in Adobe Flash format on May 28, 2010, with the first HTML5 version launching in May 2012. The tutorial is updated on an ongoing basis, with significant updates occurring in June 2013, January 2020, and August 2022.

Free Preview

You can launch the lessons of the open-access version of this module using the links below. The open-access version does not include the final quiz, but the rest of the content is the same. Please note that your progress on open-access modules is not tracked or recorded.

Module Content

Expand All
Introductory Concepts
Elementary Relationships
Extensions of Verbal Behavior
Multiple Controlling Relationships
Building on the Elementary Relationships

297 reviews for An Introduction to Verbal Behavior

Based on 297 reviews
1-5 of 297 reviews
  1. Avatar

    Very much enjoyed the training. It was entertaining and informative. I like how each of the operants were described and knowledge checks allowed for a review of the information.

    (2) (0)
  2. Avatar

    Comprehensive and well done! I thought I knew all about verbal behavior but this really helped expand my knowledge and understanding of this concept!

    (1) (0)
  3. Avatar

    Great way to hit every angle of verbal behavior and nice leveled structure

    (2) (0)
  4. Avatar

    This was a great refresher on verbal behavior concepts. The pace of the training was quick and helped me stay focused.

    (1) (0)
  5. Avatar

    A good and informative review of verbal behavior

    (1) (0)

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