Three Laws of Behavior: Allocation, Induction, and Covariance

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

At the beginning of the 20th century, research on behavior depended on the concept of stimulus-response bonds. With the invention of operant behavior, Skinner (1938) pointed the way to a new formulation that transcends discrete events and contiguity—to what has been called a “molar” view. Three developments in the 1960s moved behavior analysis further in that direction: (a) the matching law (Herrnstein, 1961); (b) the “misbehavior” of organisms (Breland & Breland, 1961) or induction (Segal, 1972); and (c) contingency defined as covariance (Rescorla, 1967). These developments lead to three laws of behavior: (a) the Law of Allocation; (b) the Law of Induction; and (c) the Law of Covariance. Time allocation results from competition among activities for the limited time available. Induction of activities by phylogenetically important events (PIE) results from natural selection operating during phylogeny. Like stimulus control, induction modulates the rates of activities. Covariance replaces contiguity and explains acquisition of inducing signals and induced operant activities—that is, conditional inducers and conditionally induced activities. These 3 laws explain virtually all we know about behavior. Some examples illustrate the superiority of this framework over the older molecular view.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles