top of page

Episode 262 Dr Joe Layng Private and Public Events Pt 2: Stimulus Control




This is Part Two of a Three part series on public and private events with our guest Dr Joe Layng. Joe is a behavior analyst. He’s been our guest before. We’ve talked about contingency adduction, non linear analysis, the effect of schedules on social behavior, and degrees of freedom among many other topics. Most recently we did a series with Joe on Schedules of Reinforcement.


Last week Joe talked about Helen Keller. Most of us know who she was through the movie “The Miracle Worker”. Helen Keller was born in 1880. When she was just 19 months old, an illness left her blind and deaf. Until she was seven years old she lived in a world without language. If you’ve watched “The Miracle Worker” you know the scene where her teacher Anne Sullivan spelled out water on Helen’s hand while holding her hand under a hand pump. The connection was made. These odd hand movements meant water. She could communicate!


In the clicker training world we often refer to this event as a Helen Keller moment. That’s the excitement you see in some animals when they suddenly understand what the click means. They can communicate! We call the sudden surge in activity, excitement. And we refer to these emotions as private events and we make a distinction between emotions and emotional behavior. One is a private event which we can’t see and the other is an observable public event.


Just when you think you’ve got this sorted, Joe throws a monkey wrench into our understanding by arguing that there is no difference between public and private events. In this episode he’ll give us another intriguing way of thinking about what we think is our reality.


bottom of page