Leigland, S. (1996). An experimental analysis of ongoing verbal behavior: Reinforcement, verbal operants, and superstitious behavior. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 13(1), 79-104. doi:10.1007/BF03392908
[Abstract]Four adult humans were asked to asked to "find" and talk about a particular topic to a person in an adjoining room, and were instructed that they would hear a short beep (the only form of reply from the other person) when they were talking about the topic, or were "close" to the topic. In Session 1, the experimenter in the adjoining room presented the beeps in the manner of shaping, or the differential reinforcement of successive approximations, "toward" the designated topic. In Session 2, the same conditions were in effect but the experimenter was unable to hear the subject and the beeps were presented noncontingently in a way that roughly matched the frequency and distribution of presentations in Session 1. In Session 3, shaping conditions were again in effect but with a different topic than that designated for Session 1. Audio recordings were transcribed in a way that was designed to show the progress of shaping over time. These and additional forms of supporting data and accompanying rationale are presented and discussed in detail. Issues raised by the methodology and results of the experiment include the nature of the verbal operant, superstitious verbal behavior, and a variety of methodological issues relevant to the experimental analysis of ongoing or continuous verbal behavior.
[Citing Place (1991a)]  
Citing Place (1991a) in context (citations start with an asterisk *):
* One of the many research themes which have been developed in the functional analysis of verbal behavior has concerned the laboratory control of the ongoing verbal behavior of the speaker. Beginning with the classic study by Greenspoon (1955), a number of researchers began reporting studies designed to demonstrate the effects of reinforcement contingencies in relatively naturally-occurring verbal behavior as observed in a controlled laboratory setting. Innovative programs were developed, for example, by William Verplanck (e.g., Verplanck, 1955; Wilson & Verplanck, 1956), Kurt Salzinger, (e.g., Salzinger, Portnoy, Zlotogura, & Keisner, 1963; for an overview see Salzinger, 1991), and Willard Day (Day, 1971/1992; Dougherty, 1980). While such programs were not without methodological complexities (e.g., Azrin, Holz, Ulrich, & Goldiamond, 1961; cf. Holz & Azrin, 1966; Michael, 1984), they nevertheless represented pioneering and important inroads to a laboratory analysis of verbal behavior. Despite the burgeoning interest in such laboratory preparations, however, reports of such studies had become scarce by the mid-1960s as these researchers turned to altemative methodological strategies or to other research themes (see Leigland, 1989; Moore, 1991; Salzinger, 1991; Verplanck, 1992). Nevertheless, interesting methodological proposals for the functional analysis of verbal behavior continue to appear in the behavior analytic literature (e.g., Drash & Tudor, 1991; Hayes, 1986; Hyten & Chase, 1991; Place, 1991).
Section Conclusions
* A variety of methodological extensions and refinements are possible as well. The basic procedures may be extended in a number of ways to the application of reinforcement contingencies to the ongoing verbal interaction between two people, for example, or consequences might be delivered by way of a computer monitor in the real-time analysis of written verbal behavior, and so on. Of the many possible methodological refinements, it has been noted that extraordinarily detailed transcription techniques are available from the field of conversation analysis in ethnomethodological sociology (e.g., Place, 1991). Advances in the science and technology of shaping may also find application in the context of verbal behavior (e.g., Galbicka, 1994). In addition, some of the advances in computer technology reported in the cognitivist literature show considerable promise as research tools for behavior analysts (e.g., Simon & Kaplan, 1989). While these programmatic advances were developed in the context of the theoretical goals of cognitive research, some appear to be easily adaptable to the goals of a functional analysis of verbal behavior (see also Hayes, 1986).