Carrying the baton: Evolution science and a contextual behavioral analysis of language and cognition

Steven C. Hayes, Brandon T. Sanford, & Frederick Chin

The contextual behavioral science (CBS) tradition is now carrying the baton passed forward by its progenitor, B. F. Skinner: a request to explore the implications of evolution science concepts for behavioral science. This article examines the 30-year history of Relational Frame Theory (RFT) research in the light of modern evolution science concepts. It distills an evolutionary approach into six interlocking features: variation, selection, retention, context, dimension, and level. Most of these dimensions have been touched upon in RFT research to date. By making the connection between CBS and evolution science explicit, however, important lines of existing and potential RFT research are emphasized and key evolutionary concepts that have not been emphasized are given greater weight. CBS researchers in general, and RFT researchers in particular, are positioned to carry the evolution science baton and to use it to help advance a natural science of behavior. It will need to be gasped firmly as CBS runs through the ultimate challenge faced by behavioral science: creation of a comprehensive and pragmatic analysis of human language and cognition.

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