Friday, January 1, 2010


Generally when we psychologists want to explain behavior, we fall back on our understanding of simple things like animals. It has long been noted for example, that an animal’s behavior can be accounted for by observing its response to the consequences of its behavior. Animals repeat a behavior which is followed by a positive consequence and cease behavior which is followed by a negative consequence, or by no consequence at all. We believe the same can be said for humans. Thus, when we see someone do something, we examine the consequences resulting from his or her behavior in order to understand why the person repeats that behavior.

This principle of positive and negative consequences to behavior can be applied to many things, including how and why we learn to speak a language, any language. For example, my mother recorded in her diary what occurred when as a baby. I made my first meaningless (to me) sounds: “ma ma” and “da da.” The whole world exploded in positive consequences.

“He said mama!” “No, he said daddy,” my parents exclaimed. Naturally, like babies all over the world, I kept making these sounds, and like fathers and mothers everywhere, my parents provided me with interesting and stimulating consequences. So I learned my native tongue by mouthing meaningless sounds coming up out of me which were followed by positive results.

Now, as an adult, when I made meaningless sounds arising from the region of my heart, God, suddenly and completely unexpectedly, showered positive consequences upon me. So, I learned my new tongue the same way I learned my native tongue, watching God reward my sounds.