Problems with Skinner's (1957) definition of verbal behavior are raised and one possible solution is presented. It is suggested that the way in which verbal communities shape behavior is distinctive-unlike the physical environment, verbal communities have culturally evolved a system of extremely generalized conditions for reinforcement which allows arbitrary relations to be shaped-and therefore could serve to define verbal behavior and exclude other forms of socially mediated behaviors. The form of "loose" shaping used is described, along with anthropological and sociological equivalents, and a suggestion is made of how it might figure in equivalence class formation. Two terms from Esoteric Buddhism are then used to illustrate this form of shaping. Fuse refers to loose reinforcement and Muzai No Nanase refers to seven ways to reinforce loosely even when one has no material possessions.
Guerin, Bernard and Junichiro, Sejima
"Verbal Community Reinforcement, With an Illustration Using the Esoteric Buddhist Concepts of Fuse and Muzai No Nanse,"
The Psychological Record:
2, Article 4.
Available at: http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/tpr/vol47/iss2/4