W. J. Jacobs, James R. Blackburn, M. Buttrick, Timothy J. Harpur, D. Kennedy, Michael J. Mana, M. A. MacDonald, Leslie M. McPherson, Dennis Paul, James G. Pfaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


A basic assumption of the behavioral sciences is that there exists a direct, self-evident relationship between the behavioral categories, or types, used to describe behavior and how the organism actually behaves. This assumption is challenged. It appears that behavioral types are typically created a priori, either with an eye to convenience of measurement or on the basis of anthropomorphic or intuitive inferences. Furthermore, it appears that human observers do not record behavioral types accurately or consistently. The elementary units, or tokens, of behavior are not recorded and, therefore, play no explicit role in the creation of the types used to describe behavior. It is suggested that behavior be described explicitly through the use of formal notation systems. This suggestion is supported by a review of studies that have used such systems to reveal striking new insights into the organization of behavior. Of these systems, Eshkol-Wachman Movement Notation appears exceptionally powerful for extracting invariant features of behavior. We suggest that the adoption of such methods will lead to behavioral taxonomies that are both ecologically and neurologically valid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-19
Number of pages17
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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