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Antecedents communicate conditions under which behavior will be reinforced. These often take the form of verbal or written statements called rules. A rule tells us what we need to do in order to be reinforced in a particular way-without us ever having to do anything at all. Imagine having to find out everything through personal experience! In the realm of cooking alone some of us would be unlikely to survive the learning process. Without rules civilization would literally be
pre-historic
because in many ways, our history is a collection of rules handed down from generation to generation.

Books, manuals, and speeches all contain rules. Parents, teachers, administrators, coaches, and ministers communicate rules. Rules tell a first time farmer that if he plants in the spring, fertilizes, and waters frequently, he will harvest in the fall.

Rules teach us how to get to Albuquerque the first time, they warn us not to eat wild mushrooms in the forest, and whether to wear a jacket and tie at a new restaurant.

In the classroom, we use rules all the time. There are rules on how to behave towards other students and rules for completing assignments. Rules attempt to communicate to students the contingencies under which they will be reinforced.
 
 
(C) 2001 J. Tyler Fovel, All Rights Reserved