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Function-Altering Effects of Verbal and Nonverbal Stimuli

2 hours, 39 minutes
3.0 BACB

“One of the implications of a function altering interpretation is that it provides a wide range of analysis of many types of behavioral events. It includes not only basic behavioral processes, such as respondent and operant conditioning, but also other processes such as observational learning, imprinting, and generalization.”

Hank Schlinger Jr., PhD, BCBA-D


In this course, Dr. Eb Blakely and Dr. Hank Schlinger describe function-altering operations and detail how function-altering interpretations can be used to explain the effects of respondent and operant conditioning. Other examples of function-altering operations including observational learning and imprinting are then described. The presentation concludes with a discussion on the implications of taking a function-altering approach to explaining behavior in applied and conceptual contexts.

 Learning Objectives

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

  1. Explain Skinner’s and other’s early interpretation of the function of rules. 
    • Explain why these early interpretations were problematic, according to Blakely and Schlinger. 
  2. Define function-altering effect. 
  3. List 5 function altering operations. 
    • Provide examples of the function-altering effects of respondent and operant contingencies. 
    • Describe the function-altering effect of observational learning. 
  4. Describe Blakely and Schlinger’s concerns with using the terms “rule” or “contingency-specifying stimuli.”
    • Provide one example of when rules do not specify all aspects of a contingency. 
  5. In addition to strengthening and weakening behavior, state what additional effects contingencies of reinforcement and punishment have according to a function-altering interpretation. 
  6. Provide examples of how function-altering operations can be used in applied settings. 
    • Describe clinical/parent training applications of function-altering verbal stimuli. 
    • Describe the role of function-altering verbal stimuli in the placebo effect. 
  7. State what we ought to do with the terms “rules” and “rule-governed behavior,” according to Schlinger. 
    • State how we ought to treat verbal and nonverbal stimuli from a function-altering interpretation. 


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.


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