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Private Events

Description of the Strategy

Stated simply, private events are those events occurring “within the skin” of a person or other organism. That is, private events involve stimuli and/or behaviors to which only the behaving organism has direct access. Although many private events have overt behaviors or stimuli that they typically accompany (e.g., the swelling of a sprained ankle is observable to others), the private event (e.g., the pain) is not perceivable by external observers. Thinking, imagining, remembering, feeling, understanding, knowing, and perceiving bodily states are all events that only the organism experiencing them may contact directly.

Behavior analysis has been widely misrepresented as excluding or ignoring private events. Although there are exceptions, many early behaviorists, including J. R. Kantor and B. F. Skinner, ...

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