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June 2022

On the origins of naming and other symbolic behavior

Author(s): Lowe, C. F.

Journal/Book: J Exp Anal Behav. 1996; 65: Indiana Univ, Dept Psychology, Bloomington, IN 47405. Soc Exp Analysis Behavior Inc. 185.

Abstract: We identify naming as the basic unit of verbal behavior, describe the conditions under which it is learned, and outline its crucial role in the development of stimulus classes and, hence, of symbolic behavior. Drawing upon B. F. Skinner's functional analysis and the theoretical work of G. H. Mead and L. S. Vygotsky, we chart how a child, through learning listener behavior and then echoic responding, learns bidirectional relations between classes of objects or events and his or her own speaker-listener behavior, thus acquiring naming-a higher order behavioral relation. Once established, the bidirectionality incorporated in naming extends across behavior classes such as those identified by Skinner as the mand, tact, and intraverbal so that each becomes a variant of the name relation. We indicate how our account informs the specification of rule-governed behavior and provides the basis for an experimental analysis of symbolic behavior. Furthermore, because naming is both evoked by, and itself evokes, classes of events it brings about new or emergent behavior such as that reported in studies of stimulus equivalence. This account is supported by data from a wide range of match-to-sample studies that also provide evidence that stimulus equivalence in humans is not a unitary phenomenon but the outcome of a number of different types of naming behavior.

Note: Article PJ Horne, Univ Wales, Sch Psychol, Bangor LL57 2DG, Gwynedd, Wales

Keyword(s): naming; verbal behavior; language; symbolic behavior; stimulus equivalence; listener behavior; rule governance; speech for self; consciousness; match to sample; EQUIVALENCE CLASS FORMATION; FIXED-INTERVAL PERFORMANCE; MATCHING-TO-SAMPLE; CONDITIONAL-DISCRIMINATION PROCEDURES; EARLY LANGUAGE-DEVELOPMENT; EARLY LEXICAL DEVELOPMENT; MENTALLY-RETARDED ADULTS; AFRICAN GREY PARROT; STIMULUS EQUIVALENCE; CONTEXTUAL CONTROL


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