a behavioral interpretation of grammar Dr. David Palmer

About Dr. David Palmer

David C. Palmer completed his Ph.D. in 1988 at the University of Massachusetts, on the blocking of conditioned reinforcement. Since 1989, he has been teaching courses on behavioral psychology and statistics at Smith College, where he is currently a Senior Lecturer. Both his teaching and research reflect his ardent advocacy of the behaviorism of B. F. Skinner.

His important and frequently cited paper in American Psychologist (1992), co-authored with John Donahoe, explains the advantages of a selectionist approach to the study of complex behavior and the shortcomings of the essentialist approach typically adopted in cognitive science. In about 50 journal articles, book chapters, reviews, and commentaries, Dr. Palmer has offered a far-reaching conceptual analysis of language and cognition from the standpoint of modern behaviorism, and has addressed fundamental issues such as the unit of analysis, response class, and private events.

His critiques of other researchers’ structural views of language, and his own tutorial articles, have advanced the analysis of verbal behavior. His textbook co-authored with Donahoe, Learning and Complex Behavior (1994, 2010) integrates behavior analytic and biological approaches to the study of behavior and is still regarded as being at the cutting edge of our basic understanding of behavior. In addition to his articles, critiques, and commentaries, Dr. Palmer has been an energetic contributor to ABAI meetings and other symposia, and has deservedly earned a reputation for being a superb spokesperson for behavior analysis.

About “A Behavioral Interpretation Of Grammar”

Dr. David Palmer presents an introductory, yet in-depth exploration into the foundational elements central to a behavioral interpretation of grammar. He gives a detailed dissection of the functions, syntax, and praxis of Skinner’s autoclitic frames and the roles of the content words that complete them. He also introduces rhetorical devices such as anaphora, explains the concepts of prosodic and contextual cues, and provides examples of how the variability and novelty of verbal communication can cause rapid shifts in stimulus control.

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