Rule governed and verbal behavior
Study and review
A rule describes a contingency for an antecedent, behavior and consequence.
It serves as an antecedent, often in the form of a verbal prompt
An action that is performed under the control of a rule is called rule-governed behavior
Rules are useful when they are included in behavioral contracts, when natural reinforcers occur
infrequently, when rapid change is desirable.
Rules are effective when stated clearly and the consequences are very important to the target person
and very likely to occur
A vocal or non-vocal action that uses language and results in a consequence is called verbal behavior
Two examples of non-verbal behavior are communicated through sign language and finger spelling
There are six types of verb behavior: 1) Mands 2) Tacts 3) Echoic 4) Intraverbal 5) Textual 6)
Mands: request an item or action. Receiving the item or action reinforces the mand. The form and
content of mands are determined by motivating operations
Example of a mand: “Water please” Motivating behavior: Being thirsty.
Blocked response conditioned establishing operation: Approach for constructing a motivating operation
for conditioned reinforcers in mand training
Tacts: name or identify items or events. Receiving feedback such as praise usually reinforces it
In tact training, a teacher asks a question about an item or event: “What are you eating for breakfast”.
The individual answers and receives praise as a reinforcer.
Rule governed behavior
Rule: Verbal statement of a contingency that involves an antecedent, a behavior, and a consequence. A
rule states that a certain consequence is likely when an individual performs a particular behavior under
a specific antecedent condition. E.g. “In case of fire (antecedent), use the stars to escape (behavior)” Rule governed behavior: An action that carries out or is controlled by a prescription given in a stated
rule. Simply, following rules.
How rules govern behavior
How rules govern behavior: A rule is a discriminative stimulus and serves as an antecedent for that
behavior and the resulting consequence. A rule is a verbal prompt, a shortcut stimulus control method.
Why do we learn rules? A rule is learned because it specifies the behavior, the consequences it states is
confirmed, and following the rule’s prescription is reinforced (positively and negatively). Failing to follow
rules is likely to result in punishment.
When are rules especially useful?
Behavioral contract: Describes the target behavior, circumstances when it should be performed
(antecedents), and consequences that will result when the target person does or does not perform it.
The contract states the rules in writing.
Rules are also useful when:
1. The target behavior’s consequences will be delayed
2. Natural reinforcers for the target behavior don’t occur often enough