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Defining the verbal specialist: an adaptive-evolutionary view of deception and counter-control.

Behavior analysis and evolutionary theory share much common intellectual ground. Together they may extend our accounts of language. Baum (1995) represents an excellent beginning for merging behavior analysis with evolutionary theory in this area. However, Baum's analysis of verbal interaction considers the functional value of deception and noncompliance only briefly. This paper attempts a broad overview of how operants such as deception and noncompliance may function in the same ecosystem to counter each other. Examples of functional deception in nonhuman animals, functional rule breaking, and noncompliance in humans are used as basis for extending the evolutionary analysis of verbal interaction to perhaps less savory aspect. We can see humans as verbal specialists occupying a social niche, manipulating the behavior of the listener to the speaker's benefit through verbal behavior.


"... and therefore, since I cannot prove a lover to entertain these fair well spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain, and hate the idle pleasure of these days. Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous, By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams, to set my brother Clarence and the King In deadly hate, the one against the other"

-Richard in Shakespeare's Richard III

Evolutionary biology has much to gain and offer to the experimental analysis of behavior, especially concerning verbal behavior. While making many strides into the evolution of verbal behavior and language, treatments of verbal behavior in evolutionary biology fails to move past accounts of single utterances and displays. On the other hand, Skinner (1987) developed an analysis of verbal behavior building from simple vocal utterances to use of facts and sentences. However, problems remain with Skinner's verbal classification system with respect to the listener. Recently, the analysis of verbal behavior has progressed (1) placing the behavior of the listener within an evolutionary framework (e.g., Baum, 1995) and (2) studying the effect of rules and other forms of verbal behavior on the listener's behavior in the literature described as rule-governed. Still work is needed analyzing stimulus classes leading to increased probability deception will occur.

Accordingly, we elaborate Baum's evolutionary analysis of verbal behavior by considering evidence for the adaptive role of deception and noncompliance. Deception and noncompliance are operant behaviors that become biased patterns of responding due to exposure to unequal reinforcement parameters (Baum, 1974). When left in the stable context of their emergence, such responses contribute to fitness, survival possibilities and reproductive success of the individual.


Traditionally, behavior analysts study generalist (1) species such as pigeons (e.g., Columba livia domestica) to produce general laws of behavior. Hayes (1987) has urged for discarding this strategy in studying human communication. In Hayes's view, Homo Sapiens are not generalists in verbal behavior but specialists, exploiting a well-defined niche. However, unlike other niches, a special climate or food type does not define this niche. What does is the most consistent environmental factor for humans, namely the presence of other humans (Skinner, 1981). Thus, we can say that humans occupy a social niche. Although the social niche is structurally dissimilar from physically delineated niches, the social environment seems to affect behavior in similar ways as the physical environment does. Finally, it is not clear that being a verbal specialist requires dropping a generalist research strategy in an evolutionary or behavior analytic study of verbal behavior.

Exploiting the social niche.

Several independent features evolved to help humans in exploiting the social niche. They include the vocal musculature coming under operant control (Holland, 1992; Skinner, 1981), the ability to discriminate and generalize between an infinite number of sound combinations based on conditioning history (Chase & Danforth, 1991), and the emergence of the ability to form arbitrary relations between stimuli (Chase & Danforth) such as equivalence relations (Hayes, 1991). The product of the interaction of these features is a particularly interesting class of behavior known as verbal behavior, which Skinner (1957, p. 4) defines as behavior that is " ... reinforced through the mediation of others." To be a verbal specialist, these features must act in concert. For example, Pepperberg (1987) showed the African Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus) can emit novel response sequences appropriate to new stimuli following discrimination training; however, as a listener its responses do not have the well-defined characteristics of stimulus equivalence exhibited by humans. Researchers can bring the operation of the vocal structure in the rhesus macaques (Maccaca mulatta) under operant control (Hauser, 1992a), yet they do not display a clear ability to form equivalence relations (Hayes, 1987), thus verbal behavior in this species is limited.

While we can imagine a species that forms equivalence relations, but due to limited vocal musculature is unable to emit complex verbal stimuli. This speculation may not be as difficult to accept as it might seem at first glance. For example, Oden, Thompson, & Premack (1990) showed chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) can discriminate between same and different, as measured by habituation occurring (less length of time of observation), but were unable to show this knowledge in matching to sample tasks. Thus, in this species perception and action may represent two overlapping but different operant systems. Still the possibility of other species displaying the ability to form equivalence relations, but do not appear to have "language" like the sea lion (Zalophus californianus) (see Schusterman & Kastak, 1993), needs exploration.

Verbal Behavior and Fitness.

Verbal behavior greatly aids one person helping another (Skinner, 1981). Baum's (1995) evolutionary account of rules, culture, and fitness is an excellent depiction of how rule-governed (2) behavior increases fitness by aiding the listener; however, this hypothesis is based on perhaps a too benign view of human interaction. For example can not following rules have advantages, similar to those of rule following? The brief coverage of lying consists of the assertions that lying is "infrequent," and if you lie "people will generally dislike you" (Baum, 1995, p. 15). Baum (1994) depicts lying as "an operant occurring in a 'child' that continues based on reinforcement history" (p. 95). While this is accurate, it goes much too quickly. People regularly engage in false witness and gossip about their neighbor, and many of our neighbors usually enjoy this form of verbal behavior. Thus, the conditions resulting in the evolution of deception and those leading to a greater probability of deception occurring need description. Our paper is not a contradition to Baum's (1995) analysis but an elaboration.

Adaptiveness of deception at the ontological level.

Communication systems could not evolve if not for their potential positive interactive effects (Dawkins, 1995), however, in many nonhuman animal species signals are used to exploit members of their fellow species (Hrdy, 1977). To make current behavior analytic accounts of verbal behavior more consistent with evolutionary theory, an account of deception is necessary. Glenn and Field (1994) have argued that operant functionalism and evolutionary functionalism differ in the scale of analysis. For operant analysis the time scale is distinctly the propagation of behavior selected ontogenetically within an individual's lifetime, while evolutionary scale is the propagation of genotypes within a species that are selected for survival. Operant behavior itself is considered evolutionarily advantageous for allowing greater flexibility of responses to shifting environmental demands.

Skinner (1957) sensed the evolutionary importance of the ability to deceive in his brief discussions of mands, but the point is never elaborated. Skinner (1957) briefly wrote of lying in his section on distorted tacts.
 Stimulus control is not only "stretched" but "invented." A
 response which has received a special measure of reinforcement is
 emitted in the absence of the circumstances under which it is
 characteristically reinforced. We see this in the behavior of
 children: a response which has been enthusiastically received on
 one occasion is repeated on a different and inappropriate occasion.
 In a still greater distortion, a response is emitted under
 circumstances which normally control an incompatible response. We
 call the response a lie. (p.149)

Taking this into the area of control Skinner (1957) also argued:

"Release from aversive stimulation as a form of generalized reinforcement is often used in special measure to produce verbal behavior having given properties. A confession is often obtained when aversive stimulation, or conditioned aversive stimulation in the form of a threat, is imposed until a given response has been made. The objection to this procedure (for example, in enlightened legal or governmental design) is precisely that it tends to distort stimulus control: release is usually contingent upon a response regardless of its correspondence with 'the facts.' The speaker may exaggerate a confession, invent one, or confess only part of an actual defection to obtain release." (p. 150).

While accounting for the ontogenetic importance of lying, Skinner did not explicate the evolutionary importance of the "lie." Skinner (1957) correctly observed that distortions may lead the social system to "deteriorate" but then incorrectly concluded that "the system is stable only when the correspondence with controlling stimuli is unimportant to the listener" (p. 150). A more pragmatic view would be to state that the stronger the correlation between word and action the greater the importance of verbal behavior. This holds if the verbal behavior always sets the occasion (completely predicts the occurrence) or never sets the occasion (completely predicts the nonoccurrence). Thus if my parents consistently lie when they state that "we will go to the park Saturday," then I can expect Saturday may hold many things. However, the park is not one of them.

The effect of non-accurate (or non-predictive) signals on the listener is common in animals. Cheney and Seyfart (1988) showed with varvet monkeys (Cerocopithecus aethiops) that listeners quickly habituate to unreliable alarm calls from speakers. Also, varvets can learn discriminate speakers accurate calls from other calls. For example, if a varvet is accurate in leopard calls but inaccurate in eagle calls, responses to the former will not receive habituation but responses to the latter will. Thus, the inaccurate calls are occasion setters for the nonoccurrence of eagles. Further the ability to discriminate environmental factors such as facial expressions in distinguishing "truth" from "lie" would increase the probability of further predicting the occurrence or nonoccurrence of events. For example in poker to be able to discern someone is bluffing can have a good pay off by increasing the probability of winning hands and decrease the probability of losing hands over time.


While behavior analysts have rarely spoken of deception, evolutionary biologists have studied deception extensively (i.e., Bond & Robinson, 1988; Dawkins & Kreb, 1978; Dow, 1987; Gowaty, 1992). Some consider the capacity to deceive to be critical to the development of culture (Dow) and at the heart of our basic enterprises, including science (Gowaty). Some evolutionary biologists argue, we primarily learn verbal behavior to increase aid that we render to the speaker, not to the listener and that "whether the reactor benefits or not is incidental" (Dawkins & Krebs, p. 285) (3). Still others have traced the gentic advantages to deception (Bond & Robinson).

Nonhuman defensive deception:

Song repertoires in male birds (Yasukawa, 1981) are particularly intriguing examples of nonhuman use of deception. Krebs (1977) suggests the ability of birds to recognize an individual song from another bird is exploited by the evolution of complex repertoires. For example, the male of the great tit (Parus major) emits from two to eight different song types, and changes territorial songs when he changes his perch. This may function to convince a potential intruder that more individuals are in the territory than actually exist. Biologists often call this the Beau Geste hypothesis after a character in P. C. Wren's novel in which Beau Geste employed deception to thwart an attack on an undermanned fortress by propping up dead men to create the false impression that more defenders existed than were present. Deception is common in species to avoid attack from predators or protect their offspring. For example, hognosed snakes will feign death to avoid predators (Burghardt, 1991). Sometimes before feigning death, they will display a series of fake strikes (Burghardt; Liska, 1997). Plovers and killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) will feign a broken wing to distract a predator from attacking their nest and thus deception serves to protect the young (Liska; Ristau, 1991; Skutch, 1976).

Varvets monkeys use deceptive alarm calls. (Cheney & Seyfart, 1991; Hauser, 1993; Seyfart, Cheney, & Marler, 1980). They will signal an alarm cry to distract the group or to redirect the focus from themselves when in situations of attack by the group.

Primate gestures often serve as setting events that are predictive of primate behavior (4). During competition this factor can be a liability and thus being able actively to manipulate such factors to provide deception can be considered an advantage. For example, de Waals (1982) observed captive chimpanzees at Arnhem zoo in the Netherlands. He reported instances in which animals were observed manipulating their faces with their hands and pushing their lips closed to cover facial expressions. Finally, de Waals noticed one female chimpanzee who would often approach others in the group with what he described as "gestures of reconciliation," only to bite them when she was close enough.

Attractive deception:

Deception is a common mate attraction practice. Gyger and Marler (1988) discovered male domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) often emit food cries when no food is present. These cries are to announce the presence of food, however in 45% of the cases no food is present. Still females approach the cries. To investigate if these cries are really fake cries of food for mating, Evans and Marler (1994) and Marler, Karakasshian, and Gyger (1991) designed an operant experiment in which male chickens were first trained to peck at a key for food. The fowl were placed in the same experimental design, except this time in the cage next to them was a female, a male or an empty cage. Calls did not occur when males were in the next cage (Marler et al, 1991). When females were present males initially increased calling then dramatically, then decreased calling when the females did not come (Evans & Marler). The empty cage produced a steady response rate of about 50% of the time (Marler et al.). Thus the food cries are audiance dependant. Similarly, Dawkins and Krebs (1978) observed male cricket use songs to induce females to travel to the male, instead of the males expending the energy to travel to the female. The songs were deceptive in a way that led to estimates of closer proximity of the male than was the case.

Another observation by de Waals (1982) was lower male chimps attempting to mate with estrous females. In these cases, the male would make eye contact with the female and then look toward some bushes. The male would then disappear casually, followed later by the female, and copulation would occur out of sight of the troop, especially the alpha male. In one observation, the alpha male began to look at the lower ranking male. The lower ranking male covered his erection with his hands and spun to face the opposite direction until his erection subsided. In this situation it is apparent that deceiving the ranking male is evolutionary advantageous: it avoids confrontation and possible punishment. Thus sneaking around and deceiving are common in other species.

Experimental deception:

Support for an operant interpretation of such phenomena comes from Lanza, Starr, and Skinner (1982). Lanza and colleagues trained two pigeons (Columba livia domestica) named Jack and Jill to communicate (for details of this training see Epstein, Lanza, and Skinner, 1980). Jack obtained food only by selecting correctly a color accessible only to Jill. Jack could provide discriminative stimuli for Jill, which if she pressed the right color Jack would press a key (marked THANK-YOU) and access to grain would reward Jill's actions. The reverse also was used. When this system was running successfully, Lanza and colleagues modified it. When the color hidden was red, they reinforced a correct report with 3.8 seconds of grain access. When the color was either green or yellow, the access to the grain was much shorter. The grain remained accessible only while the pigeon in the "listener" role pressed THANK-YOU. When reporting the incorrect response of red was reinforced for the listening pigeon both pigeons showed a switch to reporting the incorrect responses then in situations where green and yellow were present, or as the authors reported "lying" in pigeons. Savage-Rumbaugh (1984) argued this situation was not an accurate representation of lying in the venacular, because Lanza, Starr, and Skinner had not tested that the pigeon was "aware" or knew that he was displaying false signals.

In another experimental situation, Woodruff and Premack (1979) showed a chimpanzee two containers, one with food hidden inside. They then introduced the chimpanzee to two different trainers. Neither trainer knew the location of the food. One was a "cooperative" trainer: if the chimpanzee signaled which container held the food, this trainer collected the food and shared it with the chimp. The second trainer was the "uncooperative" trainer: if the chimpanzees showed this trainer the food, he ate the food himself. Over time, they tested chimpanzees with each trainer, in trails where chimp and trainer alternatively served as sender and recipient of signals. When interacting with the cooperative trainer, chimps early in the experiment produced signals to cue the location of food. Alternatively, when interacting with the uncooperative trainer and playing the role of the speaker, chimps learned, after many trials to withhold the signal. They even began to mislead the recipient. In the role of the listener, they did not respond to the speaker's misleading signals (Woodruff & Premack). It is important to note deception began to appear over many trials and was context specific to the uncooperative trainer. This is a clear example of a discriminated operant and fits with Baum' s (1994) view of deception as operant behavior, which over time would lead to adaptive fitness.


In a behavior analytic framework, behaviors are considered functional if the behavior provides benefits to the individual organism emitting the behaviors. In an evolutionary sense, behaviors are considered functional if their cumulative presence increases the reproductive success, survival possibilities, or health status of the genes. The ability to deceive under certain conditions increases the evolutionary criterion (Dawkins & Krebs, 1978). These conditions include short termed interactions, or long termed interactions where the probability of discovering the deception is low. Hauser (1992b) showed deception has a cost; if group catches the deceiver it can result in aggression targeted at the deceiver; in humans, deception is often punished by aggression, and frequently circumscribed by law. There are probably times when these short term and long term consequences of deception work at odds with one another, it would be at these points that selection would weed out the reinforcing effects of such behavior (Bond & Robinson, 1988; Rachlin, 1992).

Functional deception. Commissions or omissions of verbal behavior can accomplish deception. Deception provides fitness benefit to the deceiver and fitness costs to the deceived. Digesting the above studies, from an integrated behavior analytic and evolutionary perspective, deception can be considered functional if we meet the following conditions:

(1) there exists a context A in which a speaker has a high probability of emitting a class of verbal behavior (Glenn, 1983; Gyger & Marler, 1988) which increases the probability of the listener delivering reinforcement, terminating aversive stimulation, or not delivering aversive stimulation. This directly increases the fitness of the speaker by getting aid from the listener.


(2a) given a separate, but unrelated on critical elements, context B the speaker emits that same class of verbal behavior which increases the probability that listeners will respond by delivering reinforcement, delaying punishment, or terminating aversive stimulation (Glenn, 1983). Often we call this lying; however, lying implies that the speaker is aware (5) (Cheney & Seyfarth, 1990) or engages in intraverbal chains about the false relation between context A and B (Glenn) thus functional falsification is a better term with lying as a subset of this group.


(2b) with conditions of A the speaker omits a verbal antecedent or rule, which the speaker can emit which may aid the listener, consequently enabling the speaker to experience a relative increase in fitness by decreasing the listener's fitness (as illustrated in Hauser, 1992b or Woodruff & Premack, 1979). As Glenn (1983) points out, this is only the case if the speaker can emit the response. Thus a determination needs to be made that another context exists where the speaker would emit this response.


(2c) the speaker gains no direct benefit but gains indirect benefit by effecting others in the context who provide consequences which decrease the status of the listener [i.e., rumor, malicious gossip].


(3) We can link the speaker's increases in fitness to gaining benefit while the listener fails to obtain matching benefit, or incurs some loss of reinforcement, or fails to avoid aversive stimulation,


(4) Over time effects of deception are cumulative and deception becomes a biased pattern of responding that lead to effects that meet the requirements of the paragraph (1) of this section.


From the above analysis of the speaker, we formulated Table 1. This table suggests that noncompliance, rule -breaking and additional deception may be emitted in various social situations to counter deception. These repertiors have survival value in a stable but changing world (Patterson, 1993), since the patterns are continuously matched to a stable environment. Thus in looking at the literature on noncompliance, we would expect to find families where conditions of compliance are ontogentically selected against and evidence of stability in these patterns.


If deception is common then it would best not to follow deceptive rules / instructions. Thus, considering conditions in which noncompliance is the most functional course of action for the listener may be informative. Instruction following and noncompliance are important distinctions because they represent two different functional histories.

Noncompliance is not doing what is requested (Patterson, Reid, Jones, & Conger, 1975). For Herbert (1978), noncompliance is the most common behavior problem of childhood. Noncompliance may be functional. Particular patterns of family interaction, such as coercion, produce high rates of noncompliance, and this higher rate of noncompliance is directly related to the history of reinforcement distributed in the interaction (Snyder & Patterson, 1995).

In families of aggressive children, often coercive tendencies are high and the functional value for aggression and hostility are correspondingly high. Snyder and Patterson (1995) found a direct linear relation (i.e., matching, Davison & McCarthy, 1988) between the probability of maternal termination of conflict based on aggressive tactics of the child rather than compliance. Aggressive mother-child diads were more likely to use aggressive tactics during conflict and to end conflict conditional on the other member's aggressive tactics, than nonaggressive diads. These experiences accounted for 65% of the variance for the sons and 53% of the variance for the mothers. These patterns are stable (Patterson, Dishion, & Reid, 1992).

While compliance in children is about 60-80%, for children with conduct problems compliance is only about 40% (Forehand, 1977). From an evolutionary position this makes sense. In such a hostile environment the probability of harmful instructions would be high and thus non- adherence to instructions would be beneficial. Thus, the stable operant class selected would be one of noncompliance; however, once leaving the old training contexts (an old social niche) these patterns can be detrimental. Functional patterns of noncompliance in such family situations may be extremely nonfunctional when transferred to an educational context.

Noncompliance in most children decreases until the age of five (Patterson, 1976); however, for children in coercive families the pattern of noncompliance is extremely stable (Patterson et al., 1992). This can have serious repercussions for the child in other areas of life. First, noncompliant children are less responsive to utterances and more responsive to actions. Buehler, Patterson, & Furniss (1966) found that for delinquents the vast majority of social reinforcement (smiling, approval, etc.) occurred at an action level (6). Second, if the child is noncompliant at school, she or he may not get necessary academic or social skills. These factors may combine to produce deficits in ability to read in these children (as noticed by Patterson et al., 1992; Rutter & Yule, 1973; Semier, Eron, Myerson, & Williams, 1967; Wells & Forehand, 1985).

Suspicion that noncompliance is at the core of many conduct problems is indirectly supported by the finding that systematic increases in compliance lead to spontaneous improvement in other nontreated problem behaviors (Russo, Cataldo, & Cushing, 1981). Barkely (1985) suggests children with conduct disorders (the children most likely to grow up to be adults with antisocial personality disorders) are best classified as having deficits in "rule governed" behavior.


Once the pattern of coercion is established, children learn to seek out groups providing reinforcement for rule breaking. In one example, Dishion, Spracklen, Andrews, and Patterson (1996) studied adolescent boys whom they paired into three groups of delinquent youths and nondelinquent youths; delinquent youths and delinquent youths; nondelinquent youths and nondelinquent youths. They recorded conversations between the pairs in a laboratory setting, than coded into categories of Rule Breaking Talk or Normative Talk, and responses were coded into categories of Laughs or Pauses. Analysis of the data according to the Matching Law (Davison & McCarthy, 1988) showed a direct linear relationship between the category discussed and the contingent reinforcement for that category, accounting for 84% of the variance. Interestingly, contingent reinforcement for talking about breaking rules correlated with antisocial behavior two years later. They concluded reinforced verbalizations of breaking rules helps the child become less sensitive to direct contingencies about his behavior (i.e., peer groups reinforce talking of 'rule -breaking' and thus the child continues this pattern insensitive to direct contingencies due to social contingencies provided by the peer group). In environments where the occurrence of rule breaking is high this can lead to increased fitness for the individual. Thus like lying (Glenn, 1983), noncompliance and rule -breaking are only maladaptive once the person has left their old social niche and entered a new one.


This analysis suggests a relation between compliance and deception. In one sense, we can see deception as a form of noncompliance to cultural rules regarding correspondence between saying and doing. Without a correlation between what is said and what is done, words become nonpredictive or in more colloquial terms meaningless and trivial. However, as illustrated in Table 1, the present analysis proposes that noncompliance by a listener is adaptive when the speaker's utterance is deceptive, but when the speaker's utterance is nondeceptive (the usual state of affairs implied by Baum, 1995), noncompliance then is not adaptive.

Baum's (1995) evolutionary framework is a positive step in moving behavior analysis closer to evolutionary biology. However, to accomplish a more integrated evolutionary account of operant behavior, including verbal behavior, behavior analysts need to move past a largely benign view of verbal behavior toward a more comprehensive view which explicitly recognizes the adaptive functions of perhaps less than desirable behaviors such as deception. Although the "language specialist" occupies a well-defined social niche, this niche is probably more structurally different from other niches than functionally different. As in all niches, the behavior of the organism serves to manipulate parts of the environment in the most functional manner possible; in the social niche, verbal behavior serves the function manipulating the behavior of the listener to the adaptive advantage of the speaker.

Author Notes: Joseph D. Cautilli, Department of School Psychology and Donald A. Hantula, Department of Psychology, Temple University. Address correspondence to: Donald A. Hantula, Department of Psychology, Temple University, Weiss Hall (265-67), Philadelphia, PA 19122. Electronic mail may be sent via the Internet to:


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Joseph D. Cautilli and Donald A. Hantula

Temple University

(1) The generalist-specialist continuum is one that is commonly found in biology. Fantino and Logan (1979) describe a specialist as being well adapted for recognizing and survivig in a particular kind of environment. The need to rely less on learning because their genetic program is more specified to the particular context. On the other hand, generalists rely much more on learning processes because they are not adapted to any one particular context.

(2) In this paper, we will use the term instruction and rule interchangeably; however, we recognize the subtle distinction between the two as pointed out by Cerutti (1989) who suggested that rules suggest control of behavior in a broad variety of circumstances, while instructions suggest tight situational constraints.

(3) It was suggested by one of the reviewers that listeners spend a lot of energy and time teaching others to speak. Their are two explainations for this (1) originally communication took place largely among kin the high value of passing along verbal instructions made the cultural capacity an evolutionary advantage (Dow, 1988) (2) teaching one's child to speak increased the child's fitness as they progressed up the social hiarachy, thus increasing one's own genes' surivival possibilities and reporductive success in the population (Dawkins, 1982).

(4) Their appears to be some evidence that rhesus macaques need prior social interaction to read each other and to communicate cooperatively (Miller, 1971, 1975). In one study Miller placed lever trained monkey's in a situation where they could see the lighted panel where one of two lights would be present. The second monkey was placed in a room with a lever but could only see the face of the other monkey and not the lever.. In this study in correct responses received mild shock for both animals. Unknown animals failed poorly, where cagemates responded correctly 80% of the time on all tasks. Kin responded in these senerios better than nonkin. Interestingly enough animals that were good at being both senders and receivers were also animals that were high in dominance status.

(5) Baum (1995) describes awareness as meta-statements "... which refer to themselves or other statements. Meta-statements form the basis of some arguements that the ability of language to refer to itself sets it apart from other behavior. When I was a boy, my friends and I enjoyed the paradox 'This statement is false.' From a logical point of view, this meta-statement has a sort of magical quality because it seems to be true and false at the same time. Viewed as an utterance-as verbal behavior- however, there is nothing magical about it. It conforms to the standard English sentence frame of subject-verb-attribute. The only unusual aspect of this particular utterance is that the subject is an utterance." (p. 115). He goes on to argue that meta -statements represents statements under "stimulus control of other verbal behavior." (pp. 115)

(6) Reinforcement of delinquent behavior nonverbally occurred 82% of the time, while verbal reinforcement only occurred 18% of the time. Reinforcement of conforming behavior on the verbal level occurred 36% of the time, while on a nonverbal level it occurred 64% of the time. The reinforcement of delinquent behavior occurred significantly more often p <.001 than the punishment of delinquent responses. They concluded that the bulk of delinquents teaching is non-verbal.
Table 1 Hypothesized Relationship Between Compliance and Deception

 Listener's Behavior

 Under speaker control/ Not Under Speaker Control/
 Compliance Noncompliance

Speaker's Aids speaker Aids listener/ speaker
Utterance not aided


Speaker's Aids listener and/or Fails to aid listener
Utterance speaker or speaker
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Author:Cautilli, Joseph D.; Hantula, Donald A.
Publication:The Behavior Analyst Today
Date:Jun 22, 2001
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