Verbal Behaviour - Talk is Cheap

Verbal Behaviour - Talk is Cheap

Podcast 5 - Talk is Cheap

ABA technical concepts covered in this podcast: mentalism; explanatory fiction; philosophic doubt; contextual cueing; general case programming; autoclitic; discriminative stimuli; Skinner’s "Pure behaviour"; verbal behaviour; listener, speaker; automatic reinforcement.

Presenters - Bobbi Hoadley, Cathy Knights.

There is a lot of science on verbal behaviour and how talk influences cognition.

There are a lot of different ways to have cognitive biases about behaviour- we are snowflakes, making our own assumptions or biases about ourselves or myths from society.

A common proverb is seeing is believing. Saying is believing is the right one. If I say it enough, then it is true. When you say something out loud, you are learning it best and processing in your brain. When you retrieve it, it will sound true to you as the brain processes your environment and discriminates between efficiencies. Storytelling-may have some basis in reality, but embellishment occurs. How can you ever tell the truth? We all have varying degrees of ability to distort our thinking through what we say. Unless there’s evidence to think otherwise, the story is true, e.g. witnesses interpret what they’re seeing, not always the facts. When you layer your observation on behaviour then the detail is less reliable and less precise. Our brains are always working to store memories where there is a context, e.g. retrieving memory from childhood through a smell. One of the ways the brain stores memory efficiently is putting it into the context of how you’ve adapted to the environment- very personalized.

Often Parley tells people don’t ask a person why they do what they do. The more you push someone into a corner and demand an answer, the more defensive they become.

Compartmentalized things on a factual basis is very efficient. We all have different versions of reality. Retelling embellished stories is not a lie. Lying behaviour is definitely not true and said to manipulate another person.

Then there’s a group dynamic effect, e.g. rudeness is contagious in the workplace as people are triggered by other rude people. If you can infiltrate the group by being equally strong in ethics and generosity then the dynamic can change. Those interactions are an adaptation to the environment. Great leaders influence in the right way- by offering something more reinforcing such as positive social reinforcement.

Telling isn’t teaching- most of us think if we tell people what to do, they’ll change the error of their ways. While we think we may be providing enlightenment, we likely aren’t making a difference to their behaviour.

Cognitive dissonance is when we say one thing and do another; we live with contradictions and are accepting of those contradictions. Most of this comes through our language. Hypothetical questions get hypothetical answers. This all becomes a problem when it becomes a barrier to what we need or want in life.

Be mindful-observe and then respond, as opposed to giving in to automatic conditioned behaviours. There’s good verbal behaviour that allows the social grace to accommodate others without being painfully honest- "If there is nothing good to say, say nothing at all."

So important to find as much truth as we can, understanding that talk is cheap. The internet has us relying on most reinforcing message we can get, rather than extensive research on something.

Challenging someone’s behavioural conditioning invites rejection.

Work toward building the ability to self-soothe, self-monitoring behaviours, and have resilience, etc. Examine underlying needs and important behaviours to exercise.