Verbal Behavior What is Verbal Behavior? Verbal behavior is the behavioral term for language. Examples: The bartender asks, “What would you like to drink?” You reply, “A cranberry and vodka, please.” During a verbal imitation program, you say “puppy”. Jimmy says, “puppy” and you reinforce his response with a cheeto.
Verbal Behavior Words are behavior! Understanding the FUNCTION of language (the effects of language on the environment and those environmental variables that produce language) is critical to promoting the acquisition of speech and language.
Verbal Behavior Some components of verbal behavior include: Echoics Mands Tacts Intraverbals
Echoics What is an echoic? Verbal behavior (language) whose form is controlled by someone else's verbal behavior with point-to-point (1:1) correspondence (e.g. the child echoes exactly the speech of the teacher). Real-life examples: A Spanish friend is teaching you Spanish. She says “Hola” and you say, “Hola”. A friend asks for your phone number. You say, “555-1213”. Your friend repeats it, “555-1213”.
Echoics An echoic is evoked by: The verbal behavior of another person. An echoic is reinforced by: Praise Example: During Timmy’s verbal imitation program, you say “Cupcake”. Timmy repeats, “Cupcake”. You say “Good!”
Mands What is a mand? Request Real-life examples: Saying, “I’ll have a non-fat iced latte” to the Starbucks employee. A child asking, “Can I pet your dog?”
Mands A mand is evoked by: Motivating operations (e.g. desire to attain items, activities, or information) A mand is reinforced by: Receipt of object requested Examples: After playing outside in the heat, Timmy points to a water bottle and says, “Water.” You reinforce his response with a cup of water. You are pushing Timmy on the swings. You stop and he says “Push”. You reinforce his behavior by pushing him.
Tacts What is a tact? Naming, expressive labels Real-life examples: Hearing Tupac on the radio and saying “It’s Tupac.” Smelling smoke and saying “Fire!”
Tacts A tact is evoked by: The presence of stimuli in the environment (SD) A tact is reinforced by: Praise Examples: You show Skylar a picture of a flower. She says “flower”. You say “Good job!” While playing with Barbie, Skylar says “Pink”, referencing the color of Barbie’s shoes. You say “You’re right, her shoes are pink!”
Intraverbals What are intraverbals? Verbal behavior (language) evoked by other verbal behavior. Intraverbals include: Fill in the blanks Answers to questions Conversation with comments and questions Real-life examples: A friend asks, “How are you?” You reply, “I’m fine, thanks”. An employer asks, “Where do you go to school?” You reply, “Western Michigan.”
Intraverbals An intraverbal is evoked by: A Verbal stimulus (language) An intraverbal is reinforced by: Consequences unrelated to the verbal response Examples: You ask Jimmy, “Where do you go to school?” He replies, “KAC”. While singing with Jimmy, you say “Twinkle, twinkle, little ____” and he says “Star.”
Compare & Contrast:Echoic, Tact, & Intraverbal Similarity: Echoics, tacts, and intraverbals are all forms of verbal behavior. Differences: Tact vs. Intraverbal Different SDs Intraverbal= verbal SD Tact= presence, sound, feel etc. of a stimulus Echoic vs. Intraverbal Correspondence of SD response Echoic: SD (“Cookie”) Response (“Cookie”) Intraverbal: verbal SD (“1, 2”) Response (“3”)
Echoic, Mand, & Tact
References Levin, L. (2007). ABA-Based Strategies to Promote Speech and Language: Incidental Teaching, Pivotal Response Training, and Skinner’s Analysis of Verbal Behavior. Powerpoint Presented in Orange County. Malott, R.W. (2009). Principles of Behavior. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. Sundberg M.L, Partington J.W. (1998).Teaching Language to Children With Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. Pleasant Hill, CA: Behavior Analysts, Inc.