The Mand: A More Detailed Description

In short, the mand makes things better for the speaker. The way things get better for the speaker will vary depending on how the person asks for what they want, how much they want it, and the timing of when they make the request.

A mand as we have noted occurs when a person wants something and is the result of a history of that person getting what they wanted in the past when they asked for it.

Here are some examples of mands and how they benefit the speaker:

  • Asking for a pen and getting it when you need to write takes away the problem of not being able to write when one has to sign a paper.
  • Saying “where are my keys?” may provide information regarding the location of the keys. The information will ultimately help the person find the misplaced keys.
  • Saying “really?” or “Oh, yeah” in a conversation may serve to keep your partner talking.
  • Asking for an umbrella and getting it when you need it to cover from the rain.

B. F. Skinner (1957) noted that: “a mand may be defined as a verbal operant in which the response is reinforced by characteristic consequences and is therefore under the functional control of relevant conditions of deprivation or aversive stimulation.” A mand is verbal behavior that is controlled by motivative variables and specifies its reinforcement. Remember that the mand may function to specify a wide range of reinforcement. Asking for things is only one type of mand. One can also emit mands that result in other forms of direct reinforcement, such as obtaining social attention, obtaining verbal information and obtaining a certain type of emotional response form a listener.

Several Types of Mand Behavior: Some Examples

  • Mand for item present vocal response
  • Mand for item present sign language response
  • Mand for item present with selection based response (i.e. Picture Exchange Communication System; Frost & Bondy, 1994)
  • Mand for item not present
  • Mand for attention
  • Mand for action
  • Mand for information
  • Mand for continued verbal behavior