Citation analysis of Skinner’s verbal behavior: 1984–2004

Dymond, Simon and O’Hora, Denis and Whelan, Robert and O’Donovan, Aoife
The Behavior Analyst, 29(1): 75—88, 2006

The present study undertook an updated citation analysis of  Verbal Behavior. All articles that cited Verbal Behavior between 1984 and 2004 were recorded and content analyzed into one of five categories; four empirical and one nonempirical. Of the empirical categories, studies that employed a verbal operant from Skinner’s analysis were assigned to either basic, applied, or observational categories. Empirical studies that did not employ a verbal operant were categorized as other-empirical. The total number of citations remained stable across the review period and averaged just over 52 per year. Of these, 80% were from nonempirical articles, 13.7% were from other-empirical articles, 4% were from applied articles, 1.4% were from basic articles, and 0.9% were from observational articles. An “obliteration” analysis was also conducted to identify articles that employed Skinner’s verbal operant terms but did not cite Verbal Behavior. This analysis identified 44 additional articles, suggesting that a degree of obliteration had occurred in the half century since the publication of Verbal Behavior. In particular, the analysis suggests that the verbal operant of manding has sufficient presence in the applied empirical literature to render citation of Verbal Behavior redundant. Overall, Verbal Behavior continues to make an important contribution to the psychological literature.