TECHNICAL TERMS, INTERVENING VARIABLES, AND THE LIMITS OF THE CONCEPT OF MOTIVATION: A RESPONSE TO WHELAN AND BARNES-HOLMES'S (2013) COMMENTARY

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Abstract

Whelan and Barnes-Holmes (this issue) emphasized points with which they disagree with our analyses, especially regarding what they define as the correct usage of technical terms, what should be considered motivational, and the use of intervening variables in behavior analysis. Except for the definition of motivational phenomena, however, we believe that there are similarities between our proposal and the analyses presented in their commentary. We agree that terms should be used correctly and that behavior analysts should avoid dualistic explanations of behavior, but we propose that the intervening variable consequence value, defined as the relation between dependent variables and the independent variables that influence the effectiveness of consequences, is a more precise account of motivational phenomena than is a definition by exclusion, which has a higher likelihood of misuse. The present notion of value is consistent with the philosophical and scientific principles of behavior analysis and, most important, it can further experimental analyses and theoretical systematizations of findings about behavior because its limits are empirically established.

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