When are feelings really feelings? November 20, 2018

How many times a day do we express how we’re feeling? Surely so many that we don’t notice the circumstances or pay attention to what our phrasings imply for how we understand behavior. “I feel like having a salad for lunch.” “I’m feeling sleepy.” “I feel sick to my stomach.” “I feel like going to…

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An essential curiosity August 9, 2018

We all know that moment when we’re talking with someone we’ve just met and they ask that question that you don’t really want to answer – “What do you do?” It’s not that we’re not proud of our profession, but that it’s hard to explain what it is. We’ve got our stock responses, which vary…

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Why logic doesn’t matter July 12, 2018

We all do it. We pounce on an offending statement in a discussion by saying it isn’t logical, as if this alone should settle the matter. With no less conviction, we defend our own arguments by saying that they are. This vernacular tendency seems to hold out logic as an arbiter of truth, or at…

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Can professionalism go too far? May 7, 2018

Early on there were just behavior analysts. There was no official definition of what it meant to say that you were a behavior analyst; it was just a matter of self-proclamation. Within that community, there was at least a general sense that being a behavior analyst meant you had a pretty solid knowledge of operant…

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The value of values April 10, 2018

Everyday references to values don’t provide much in the way of hints about their fundamental nature. Our vernacular way of talking about values generally suggests that they crudely identify what we like (or don’t like, depending on how they are expressed). The possibilities range widely, from specific things (vintage Porsches) to activities or experiences (riding…

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Is your behavior really yours? February 27, 2018

The syntax of our vernacular dialect suggests that behavior originates in, comes from, or is possessed by the organism. It is difficult to casually refer to an individual’s behavior – note the possessive case – without these implications. This tendency may not be among the most harmful everyday insinuations, but it’s hardly innocent either. Read…

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Rules are for amateurs January 22, 2018

In this post, I’m going to wander a bit afield from my usual focus on how we talk about behavior from a conceptual or theoretical perspective. This discussion will still focus on how we talk about behavior, but it’s how we talk about our own professional behavior that is at issue. Procedural rules The rules…

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As if November 21, 2017

We do it all the time and it seems so harmless – saying something about behavior but adding a speculation beginning with “as if.” “She was really kind of annoyed, as if she was already in a bad mood” or “When I talk to my dog, he cocks his head as if he’s trying to…

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