Using Revealed Operants to Study the Structure and Properties of Human Operant Behavior

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Psychological Record



Publication Date


First Page


Last Page



The “revealed operant” is described as a practical research tool. It differs from traditional types of operants that are recorded as single instantaneous events, in that some of the revealed operant’s sub-operants can be recorded conveniently, and that the first and last of these are made on separate manipulanda. A revealed operant can be studied by examining multiple measures relating to the internal structure of individual occurrences of the operant, including incomplete occurrences. A practical method for implementing revealed operants for human subjects, using only a personal computer and keyboard, is used in pilot studies of (a) resurgence after extinction and after an abrupt increase in the revealed operant’s work requirement, (b) variability changes during and after extinction, (c) effects of fixed ratio size and of the revealed operant’s work requirement, (d) sensitivity of different components as a function of their distance from the end of the revealed operant, and (e) changes in the revealed operant’s internal patterns as a function of long-term repetition.