Guest Blogger: Andy Lattal Contrary to a popular myth among many behavior analysts, Skinner invented neither the cumulative record nor the cumulative recorder. The origins of cumulative frequency plots, as they were known, date back to at least a couple of centuries ago, and now appear frequently in popular media. Consider, for example, the cumulative

Behavioristic Bliss

Guest Blogger: Andy Lattal Someone recently sent me a rather gloomy article titled, “Your Professional Decline is Coming Much Sooner Thank You Think.” The author, Arthur Brooks, says that everyone over the age of 50 is washed up in their current careers, and should quit and do something else! The argument is essentially that people

Rules Rule, or Do They?

Guest Blogger: Andy Lattal Rules are everywhere, from the Ten Commandments to those whose violations bring us into traffic court. It is no surprise that rule-governed behavior occupies such a prominent place in behavior-analytic theory. One perspective, on which there is no universal agreement, is that rules function as discriminative stimuli, setting the occasion for
Guest Blogger: Andy Lattal Psychologically speaking, an agent is an entity responsible for a course of action. Some psychological agents with which many of us are familiar are “personality,” “conscience,” “self,” and “stress.” Each of these agents is said to be responsible for behavior:  “she behaves that way because she has an outgoing personality” (the

A Signal Experience

Guest Blogger: Andy Lattal I recently found myself caught up in a great discussion with two colleagues, both of whom I highly respect, concerning a particular term that we see in many places in our science. The discussion centered around whether or not it is good Behavior-ese to describe a discriminative stimulus as signaling the availability of

Stay the Course?

Guest Blogger: Andy Lattal Persistence is a topic of folk wisdom and behavioral science. Admiral Farragut’s “Damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead!” or sayings like “Never say die” all point to staying the course, even when it’s rough. Behavioral psychologists have, for a very long time, been interested in the circumstances under which behavior does
Guest Blogger: Dr. Andy Lattal There is another question to be answered before considering the question in the title of this commentary: “What is a free operant, anyway?” It is an expression that sometimes appears in talks and articles, but it isn’t as commonly used as it once was. Free operant originally described an experimental arrangement in which

Treating Dangerous Behavior

Guest Blogger: Andy Lattal Dangerous behavior simply can’t be ignored. The person engaging in it is going to either hurt herself or someone else if it continues. Saying that is easy, knowing what to do about it is a rabbit hole. At what point does the behavior become more than “disruptive” and cross the “dangerous”

Behavior in Translation

Blogger: Dr. Andy Lattal Have you ever heard a paper presented at a conference or elsewhere about research with rats or pigeons, and it seems like the findings might be helpful in working with your clients? But then you wonder, is there really a connection between the two? How do people know if a basic

Psychology Spectrum Disorder (PSD)

Blogger: Dr. Andy Lattal In a famous article entitled “Are Theories of Learning Necessary,” published in 1950, Skinner examined the broad spectrum, that is, psychology, and presented it to the Midwestern Psychological Association. He proposed that approaches at either end of the psychology spectrum were, from his vantage, somewhat disordered. They remain so today. At one end were theories that