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Psicologia USP

Print version ISSN 0103-6564On-line version ISSN 1678-5177


ZILIO, Diego  and  NEVES FILHO, Hernando. What is (not) “complex” about behavior? Radical behaviorism, self, insight and language. Psicol. USP [online]. 2018, vol.29, n.3, pp.374-384. ISSN 0103-6564.

A criticism usually found in Psychology textbooks and manuals is that Behavior Analysis would not be able to explain complex psychological phenomena. These would be better approached by cognitivist explanations based on mechanisms internal to the organism. This study aims to discuss the relevance of this criticism in light of examples gathered from behavior-analytic literature. By analyzing researches about the formation of “self”, “insight” and language, we argue that “complexity” was imported to behavior-analytic laboratories as well as it flourished in numerous fields of research of radical behaviorism tradition. Additionally, five meanings of “complexity” extracted from the consulted literature are discussed. It is concluded that there is no useful meaning to this term and, for that reason, it can be abandoned as a criterion for classifying behaviors. As a consequence, “complex behavior” should be viewed only as “behavior” and nothing else.

Keywords : radical behaviorism; cognitivism; metatheories; complex behavior.

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