Find a Continuing Education Course

Conditioning the Behavior of the Listener: Implications for Rule-Governed Behavior

1 hours, 39 minutes
2.0 BACB

“Instead of talking about rules, why don’t we focus instead on the behavioral functions of verbal events. If we do that then we go back to our basic unit of analysis and a parsimonious approach to understanding both verbal and nonverbal events.”

Hank Schlinger, PhD, BCBA-D


Understanding rules and rule-governed behavior has been a pervasive conceptual issue in behavior analysis since Skinner’s initial analysis in his book, Verbal Behavior (1957). Since then the exact function of rules and verbal stimuli has been a point of conjecture. In this course, Dr. Hank Schlinger, BCBA-D, provides a detailed overview of the history of the analysis of rules and provides a contemporary perspective on rule-governed behavior informed by Blakely and Schlinger (1987a, 1987b). Dr. Schlinger describes and provides examples of a function-altering approach to understanding the effects of verbal stimuli and the implications this perspective has on rule-governed behavior. Dr. Schlinger concludes with a suggestion that the next step in the analysis of rules might be to abandon the term altogether. 

Learning Objectives

What you’ll learn in the course and be able to do afterward

  1. Compare and contrast the Skinnerian and clinical psychology analysis of rules 
    • Define rules according to Skinner. 
    • Reference Skinner’s discussion of rules in Verbal Behavior (1957) 
  2. Define rules according to other behavior analysts 
    • Explain why differences in the analysis of rules is problematic for the field
    • List the problems associated with describing rules as discriminative stimuli
  3. Describe Blakely and Schlinger’s (1987a, 1987b) analysis of rules 
    • Explain the meaning of function-altering effect
    • Reference examples of respondent and operant function-altering effects
  4. Describe how verbal stimuli can have function-altering effects
  5. Compare and contrast analog and literal conditioning according to Alessi (1992)
    • State whether function-altering verbal stimuli are cases of analog or literal  conditioning, according to Schlinger
  6. List implications of a function-altering analysis of verbal events for rules and rule-governed behavior. 
    • Describe Schlinger’s suggestion for using the term rules in behavior analysis


This course is delivered through Florida Tech. Clicking "Enroll Now" will take you to Florida Tech’s website where you can Add to CartCheckout, and complete the course. Come back to our website for podcasts, blogs, courses, and content.


If you have already purchased this product, please login to leave a review.